THE DOI Suthep Forest Reclamation Network yesterday called for the Courts of Justice to return 45 houses and nine flats in the controversial housing project built on the forested slopes of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep to the Treasury Department. The request also entails eviction of 30 families who have recently moved into the properties.
If the court failed to act on the government-brokered agreement to hand over that part of the project for demolition and reforestation, the network would mobilise a major protest, warned network coordinator Teerasak Rupsuwan. “We know these families moved into the flats in April, before the agreement was reached. But as it was agreed no one will stay in the forestland, the court has to adhere to the government’s order,” he said.
The network is waiting for the June 18 deadline when the contractor will hand over the last phase of the project to the court, so that the process to return a portion of the buildings can begin. But reports of 30 families moving in, with clothes seen drying on balconies, plus a rumour that the contractor may miss the deadline, have prompted concern that the court may ignore the order.
The controversial estate in Mae Rim district comprises the residential area of 13 flats and 45 houses and the Administrative Office building of Appeal Region 5.
The government in early May agreed that the land on which 45 houses and nine flats, deemed to be located on forestland, would be eventually handed back to the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, while the court can keep the office building and four flats.
The network will this week file a fresh request with the provincial governor to survey the premises, said Teerasak, after a court on Tuesday limited access to network members who were not academics and government officials. This time they hope to acc4ess the estate on June 18 and announce the results to the public on June 19, he added.
Network spokesman Pannaros Buaklee on Tuesday said the whole committee was set up legally and was acting on the prime minister’s order to study facts. Thus the court’s “regrettable move” would be reported to the government, since limiting access to the site would lead to a delayed resolution, he said.