The chief wardens of six major national parks have been given lightening transfers for "easier management" of illegal occupations.
Manaphat Huamuengkaew, the new director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, yesterday vowed to carry on with the planned dismantling of illegally built resorts on Samet Island, while the encroachment at other parks would be further dealt with.
The six national parks are Samet-Khao Laem Ya Park in Rayong, Ao Phang Nga Marine Park, Similan National Marine Park, Surin National Marine Park in Phang Nga, Doi Phu Kha National Park in Nan and Kitchakood National Park in Chanthaburi.
A department source said such abrupt transfers were not usual and would create problems managing those parks at this time of the year when hordes of tourist were visiting. The transfers have demoralised park officials and rangers.
A prospective replacement for Samet would possibly lead to delays in demolishing the illegally built resorts there, because the official was close to influential locals with connections to the resort owners, the source said.
A source at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said that more high-profile transfers would follow after the New Year break, targeting about 20 chief wardens and managers of a few other major parks as well as a division director, whose transfer requires the approval of the permanent secretary.
Arkhom Namkham, chief warden of Samet, said the reassignment was fine with him but he had not yet seen the order.
“I am willing to follow the orders of my superiors and am always ready to carry out any instructions,” he added.