Network accuses court of time-buying tactics over Doi Suthep land
A group of environmentalists on Monday stepped up their call for the Treasury Department to take back the plot at the foot of Doi Suthep from the Appeal Court Region 5, so it can be reforested.
At a press conference in Chiang Mai on Monday morning, the Network to Reclaim Doi Suthep Forest slammed the Office of the Judiciary for dragging its feet in dismantling structures and handing the plot over to the Treasury Department.
The plot was taken over by the Appeal Court Region 5 to build an office-cum-housing complex for judges, but environmentalists discovered many of the planned residences encroached into the forest zone. Eventually, the Courts of Justice agreed in August 2018 to relocate the project to Chiang Rai.
However, Theerasak Rupsuwan, a leader of the network, pointed out that four years have passed, yet no progress has been made to return the land to the Treasury Department.
He also quoted the department as saying that there is no law to base the receipt of residences and furniture from the court. As many as 45 houses and nine condominiums have been built on the controversial plot.
“But we see this as a tactic to buy time, as the court does not want to move out of the area,” Theerasak alleged.
He added that the government has allocated 9 million baht for reforesting the area and the budget has not been touched yet. Theerasak added that members of his network were ready to go into the area to plant trees before the arrival of the rainy season, but they were being blocked from entering the area.
He also pointed out that the new housing project in Chiang Rai was allocated 737 million baht and construction began on October 24, 2019. Yet, he said, the project has only progressed by about 10 per cent even though the deadline for completion is September 7 this year.
He said the contractor appears to have abandoned the project, which is another indication that the court does not intend to relocate the judges from the foot of Doi Suthep.
Theerasak added that the network has resolved to file lawsuits against all relevant agencies if the plot is not returned to the Treasury Department for rehabilitation. He also said the network will hold a demonstration on April 29 to mark four years of its campaign for the return of the plot.
Also on Monday, the group handed a letter to Kornchak Chuthip, chief of the Treasury Department’s office in Chiang Mai, who said he will pass the letter on to the head office for consideration.
He added that his office was unable to take the land back from the court because the houses and furniture could not be converted for public use and that it was up to the head office to consider what can be done.