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'Demolisher' team set to visit suspect sites

PHUKET: The Director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Damrong “The Demolisher” Pidech, is due in Phuket tomorrow (August 15) to push along his investigation into 10 resorts and property developments suspected of encroaching on parts of Sirinart Marine National Park in the north of Phuket.

By Paritta Wangkiat

Tuesday 14 August 2012, 04:37PM

Damrong Pidech: Determined to finish his probe before he retires.

Damrong Pidech: Determined to finish his probe before he retires.

At a briefing today, the media were told that he will also open a center in Sirinart that will act as a point for the gathering of information to support officials’ investigations into encroachment in the park.

Mr Damrong has already said that the 10 investigation teams he set up – one per suspect site – since his previous visit to Phuket on July 11 have already collected relevant paperwork and will start two days of surveys on the ground as soon as the centre has been opened.

He set the teams a deadline of September 15 – just a month from now – to complete investigations and file reports with the police if they find any of the 10 suspected sites have structures built on title deeds obtained through corruption.

Mr Damrong recently told media he had been informed that in 1964 local people were encouraged to exchange the SorKor1 land occupation papers for compensation from the authorities before the declaration of Khao Ruak-Khao Pang national park in Phuket.

This, he said, proved that no one could hold a land deed in the area after the declaration.

The Khao Ruak-Khao Pang national park was later included in the much larger Sirinart Marine National Park, which was declared in 1981.

Construction of new resorts and hotels has proliferated around and possibly within the boundaries of the park, particularly in the past three years.

Recently it appeared that Mr Damrong might be moved into an inactive post following complaints by the owner of a resort in Prachinburi about his “unfair” demolition of the resort. However, extensive support for Mr Damrong, particularly through the internet, seems to have headed off this possibility.

He retires from government service in October, hence his drive to complete the Phuket investigations fast.



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