Doi Suthep project shifts to Chiang Rai

Doi Suthep project shifts to Chiang Rai

New plot eyed for judicial buildings

The Judicial Administration Commission has resolved to relocate its controversial housing project at the foot of Doi Suthep mountain in Chiang Mai to a new location in neighbouring Chiang Rai.

Sarawut Benjakul, secretary-general of the Office of the Judiciary, said yesterday the decision by the commission was reached at its mobile meeting in Chiang Rai on Friday.

The Office of the Judiciary is the secretariat of the Courts of Justice.

The commission resolved to secure an agreement with Chiang Rai Horticulture Research Centre to use part of the centre's land to construct a new office for the Administrative Office of Appeal Region 5, plus accommodation for its staff, Mr Sarawut said.

Before the decision was made, the commission on Thursday visited the centre to survey a 40 rai plot which was proposed to be the new location of the housing project, Mr Sarawut said.

"If the construction budget is approved and when work is complete, both the Administrative Office of Appeal Region 5 and the housing project will then be relocated from the foot of Doi Suthep to this new location," Mr Sarawut said.

Asked if this means the Doi Suthep land, which was officially granted to the Administrative Office of Appeal Region 5 in a formal contract, will have to be returned to the government, he said the Office of the Judiciary will have to discuss the matter with the government after the work in Chiang Rai is completed.

Originally built for judges and staff of the Administrative Office of Appeal Region 5 in the North, the housing project has provoked a public outcry.

Most recently, an activist group on Thursday threatened to lead a mass rally in downtown Chaing Mai on Aug 26 against the housing project.

Several points in the agreement reached between the group and the government's representative, PM's Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana, at meetings over the past three months have yet to be fulfilled, said the network on its Facebook page.

The government gave assurances that no one would be allowed to live in the buildings, which has not been the case, and proves that the previous talks meant nothing of substance, the group said.

The network was therefore calling for locals in Chiang Mai to turn up at Tha Phae Gate at 8am on Aug 26 for a mass rally.

In another development, a public campaign initiated by activist Thanong Thongphubet on Change.org and intended as a petition for the government to return the land to the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park had received more than 62,000 supporters as of yesterday.

"The forest land destroyed by the housing project needs to be restored for the sake of the forest ecosystem, and the public expects it," Mr Thanong said.


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