By THE NATION
“We will give the court 10 days to respond,” the network’s co-ordinator Teerasak Rupsuwan said yesterday. “Without positive response, we will also stage a big rally on June 30.”
The network also demanded the eviction of 30 families who had lately moved in to what is supposed to be an uninhabited area.
The controversial site sits at the foot of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep mountain, whereby structures that were initially designated as court officials’ residences are being built.
Many families had reportedly moved in and were living in the structures despite the controversy.
After locals and environmentalists led a high-profile campaign strongly opposing building on the site to accommodate court officials and called for returning the site to the forest, the government publicly stated that court officials will get a new location for their residences.
Yet, the Doi Suthep Forest Reclamation Network remains worried after witnessing the continuing construction on the site and the many families moving in to live in the zone.
The group is demanding the eviction of 30 families who recently moved into the homes. It wants the Courts of Justice to stop ongoing construction and immediately return 45 houses and nine flats in the estate to the Treasury Department, Teerasak said. The estate has 13 flat buildings and 45 houses and an administrative office building for Court of Appeals Region 5.
The government in early May brokered an agreement for a portion of the property to be handed over to the Treasury Department before being reforested and returned to Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. The deal allowed for the office building and four flat buildings to remain.
The network was waiting until a June 18 deadline for the contractor to sign over the last phase of the project to the court so the hand-over could begin. But reports of 30 families moving in since April – plus a rumour that the contractor might miss the deadline – prompted concern that the court might ignore the order.
PM’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana, the government’s mediator in the dispute, on Sunday sent his secretary, Thaworn Phrommeechai, and other members of the central committee to inspect the site along with a Chiang Mai-based sub-panel.
Suwaphan urged both sides to think of “the common good”, to be understanding of each other, and to have a positive and non-hostile viewpoint.
“We should proceed with what can be done in the short term while both sides discuss mid-term and long-term solutions based on the law, academic |studies, the facts of the locality and other factors,” Suwaphan said.