June 30, 2014 00:00 By CHAYANON PRANEET
PEOPLE FROM nearby villages have planted many trees along Thanarat Road in Nakhon Ratchasima's Khao Yai area, where Highways Department officials removed 128 large trees four years ago for a controversial expansion project - while they await an appeal rul
Songs-for-life singer Pongthep Kradomchamnan said yesterday that the Central Administrative Court ruling on May 16, 2010 for the department to grow 128 trees of the same type and similar height by the road to replace all those felled had set a good example for other government agencies not to go against the interests of the public.
The Highways Department had ignored requests from him and a group of villagers for it to plant the 128 trees, so Pongthep and members of his Khao Yai Foundation planted many trees three-to-four inches thick on three occasions.
After the department widened a 8.1-kilometre stretch of Thanarat Road, or Route 2090, between the Pak Chong area and Khao Yai National Park, a group of 130 people including Pongthep complained to the Central Administrative Court over the loss of the 128 majestic trees.
The department appealed the ruling, saying it was impossible to implement and would be ecologically detrimental to other areas, as large trees elsewhere would need to be dug up to replace those 128 that were uprooted. A villager and one of the 130 people, Tawan Srikanil, said the trees planted by the department were small and rather susceptible to to disease.
The 127 trees planted by him and fellow villagers were large breeds including a tabaeg (bungor) tree – a symbol of Khao Yai. It was 20 years old, tall and purchased for Bt12,000 using donations from villagers.
A local forestry official, who asked not to be named, said the 128 tall and rotund trees felled fours year ago, which were 15-18 years old, were left wasting away and decaying in his custody. Sarawuth Songwilai, a deputy director-general of the department, said the 128 trees of various breeds to ensure ecological diversity, as suggested by forestry officials, would be grown if the appeal was turned down by the Supreme Administrative Court.