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Officials accused in encroachment of protected Phuket forest

Officials accused in encroachment of protected Phuket forest

PHUKET: Officers from the Royal Forest Department yesterday (Jan 18) inspected 83 rai of hill land located near Bang Wad reservoir which was encroached for agriculture and made a road in the area. 

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Tuesday 19 January 2021, 05:07PM

The inspection, led by Suphachai Suksai, chief of the Encroachment Prevention and Suppression Region 4 office under the Royal Forest Department, was conducted at about 4pm.

The land is located in the Khao Nakkerd protected forest, which has a designated area crossing into Wichit and Kathu.

The team found a road about 1.5km long starting from the foot of hills in Kathu and crossing the hills to Wichit. Some trees were cut to make way for the road, and the team also found plantations of durian and bitter bean (‘sator’, in Thai) trees.

Mr Suphachai estimated the cost of the damage done over the whole 83 rai to be more than B10 million.

“This inspection was conducted as we received a complaint from a local resident that they saw some administrative officers as well as those who were relevant to forest suppression at the site while bulldozers were making the road,” Mr Suphachai said.

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“A local resident went to warn the workers who were making the road that the forest is protected. A worker told him that they knew that well, but they worked for a ‘big man’ and they were not afraid if they were charged,” he said. 

“This is a really big encroachment, and the people behind this must be big as well,” he noted.

“They have acted aggressively, without fear,” Mr Suphachai said.

“The top of the hills is about 300 metres above sea level. We can see a 360-degree view from there, which could be a reason for this encroachment,” Mr Suphachai also noted.

“Today we cannot give much detail about the encroachment, but we will report our findings to high-ranking officers of our department for sure. Tomorrow we will come to continue our inspection of the area,” he said.

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Kurt | 20 January 2021 - 11:08:20

@ Galong, 'How much trouble  is it to patrol Phuket'?  Good question! Probably that is not in their job description. In that is perhaps mentioned to sit in airco office and wait only for incoming complains to fill out in 5 copies before going to have a look. Just a look only. Not disturbing 'Big Men'.

Andy | 20 January 2021 - 10:48:56

I have been here 11 years and in that time there has been constant development inside Sirinat National Park.  Anantara, Avadina and Pullman are all in the park.  How did anyone come to own that land?  Avadina is a massive development north of Layan worth billions of baht.

Kurt | 20 January 2021 - 09:52:24

It seems many 'Big Men' cause a lot of damage to the beauty, flora and fauna of Phuket island. Does the Phuket Thai society with their Officialdom ahead of them realize that these 'Big Men' are 'toxic' criminals the island is housing? Phuket in down fall due to Big Men Hi-so's. Very sad.

JohnC | 20 January 2021 - 09:12:42

A large section of forest on the hills above Naiharn/Sai Yuan has also been cut and burnt recently. Is this also by a "big man" because nobody seems to be doing anything about it either.

Timothy | 20 January 2021 - 09:06:09

Galong, I agree with you. Those useless "officials" don't even notice huge resorts being built in the protected forest until they are completed and someone complains. 

Fascinated | 19 January 2021 - 20:02:23

What happened to my comment- too close to the truth?

Galong | 19 January 2021 - 19:50:09

Fire ALL of the Royal Forest Department officials for not doing their job. How much trouble is it to patrol Phuket? 83 rai destroyed & they didn't know about it while it was happening? They still wouldn't have known unless a good citizen told them. Disgraceful. 

Capricornball | 19 January 2021 - 19:02:59

I wish Mr. Suphachai and his team would also come take a look at the upper west-facing slope in Kamala.  It appears that a road has been cut out of the forest and structures have been built far above the height limit.  I'm guessing Mr. Suphachai just might find another ‘big man’ that also thinks he is untouchable.


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