By PATINYA SRISUPAMART
The decision was conveyed to them during a meeting with PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana in Chiang Mai province.
“It is just a break in the battle but we will closely monitor the situation. We have high hopes that it would be a happy ending,” Teerasak Roopsuwan, coordinator of the network, said. He added that the meeting with Suwaphan reached what he described as a satisfactory result that no one would use the 45 houses and nine nearby buildings.
The network will closely monitor the government’s next moves to see whether it keeps its promises, he said.
The two-hour meeting chaired by Suwaphan agreed that a committee would be set up to look into what to do with the houses under construction.
“The public and people’s network have campaigned to have all the housing buildings demolished and the site reforested. However their wishes face difficulties with law,” he said.
Teerasak said that there would be a channel after the site is returned to the Treasury Department and the department gives it to Forestry Department to turn it into a national park.
“Forestry-related laws could possibly be applied to demolish the houses and the buildings,” he said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had assigned Suwaphan to travel to resolve the much-publicised feud over the presence of court officials’ houses and buildings on 147 rai of land at the foot of Doi Suthep. Several people’s networks had campaigned for their demolition, arguing that the construction had destroyed the forests to provide homes for the judges.
A series of protests were organised to vent their anger over the buildings, which were built with a budget of close to Bt1 billion.
The protesters claimed that the construction encroached on forestry-protected land but the Court of Appeals Region argued that the site was state property under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department and the construction of the buildings had been approved by the authorities concerned.
Meanwhile, Suwaphan told reporters that the meeting resolved that no one would be allowed to use the site in question.
The Treasury Department’s Chiang Mai branch will survey and measure the site to know the location to be rehabilitated.
“The government will be responsible to find a new location and budget for the judges,” Suwaphan said.
“The 33rd Military Circle in Chiang Mai is preparing its soldiers to plant trees in the area, starting on May 27 which is Visaka Bucha Day,” he said.
Suwaphan reiterated that the Justice side had handed over the matter to the government and promised to respect and implement the government’s decision.