The controversy kicked off over the government's planned expulsion of resort and home owners accused of encroaching in the Plu Luang forest reserve in Nakhon Ratchasima's Wang Nam Khieo district heated up even further on Friday when about 800 residents of Wang Nam Khieo staged a protest to pressure the government to back off. The residents want to change the wording of the 1961 National Park Act, the 1964 National Forest Reserve Act and the 1975 Land Reform for Agriculture Act to allow them to continue living and operating businesses in forest reserves.
On the other side, Forestry Department chief Suwit Rattanamanee has pledged to demolish any structures found to be in violation of the 1964 National Forest Reserve Act and return the land to the state. Mr Suwit also said that if successful, the crackdown at Wang Nam Khieo would be a model for forestry officials in tackling forest encroachment by resort operators in other parts of the country.
A Senate panel on natural resources and environment chaired by Surachai Liangbun is reviewing the issue of forest encroachment nationwide and will make recommendations to the new government on how to proceed. In a word, the government headed by Yingluck Shinawatra should proceed carefully.
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