Damrong the 'Demolisher' investigates Phuket's illegal buildings
Friday 1 June 2012, 04:50PM
Damrong Pidech, Director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, unofficially visited the Sirinart Marine National Park, in north of Phuket, on Tuesday (May 29) to examine an alleged case of land encroachment.
The initial purpose of his visit was to take a look at three roads in the Layan area – 800-metre-long Layan Soi 9, Soi 7/1 (1.3 km) and Soi 7/2 (597 metres) – which were built in 2008 by OrBorTor Cherng Talay and a private company and which supposedly intrude into the park.
Power poles and cables were also installed along the roads, supposedly with the approval of a former chief of the Sirinart Park.
Since then, there have been ongoing court battles between officials of the park and OrBorTor Cherng Thalay. These have yet to come to a conclusion, but Mr Pidetch said he would in any case set up a committee to investigate.
The Sirinart park covers 56,250 rai along the west coast, from the tip of Mai Khao, through Nai Yang and Nai Torn beaches and down to Layan, an area in which several luxury property developments and resorts have opened up in recent years.
Questioning the legitimacy of some of these, Mr Pidetch said he would set up a team to investigate the origins of the deeds for land the properties are built on.
At least seven hotels and resorts, covering a total of more than 700 rai will be examined, he said. His team will take about 30 days to search for evidence such as aerial photographs and documents supporting the issue of the title deeds.
He said that he would like to apply “the Wang Nam Kiew model” to any resorts found to be illegal.
He was referring to the Wang Nam Kiew area of Nakhon Ratchassima Province in Isarn, which saw a boom in illegal building in recent years, with as many as 150 resorts being established on supposedly protected land.
After investigating the situation, Mr Damrong ordered 25 of these to be bulldozed last year. See photographs for an example (Picture by Noppatjak Attanon).
His clean-out of Wang Nam Kiew also included intense investigation of officials involved in the issuing of title deeds.
This tough approach naturally sparked outrage among property owners and villagers, with protests and attempts to block the demolitions.
A map of the Sirinart Marine National Park can be seen here .