Crushing plants that cause forest fires will lose licences

Crushing plants that cause forest fires will lose licences

Forest officials check forestland near a stone-crushing plant in Lampang province last Friday. (Photo supplied)
Forest officials check forestland near a stone-crushing plant in Lampang province last Friday. (Photo supplied)

The Royal Forest Department plans to revoke the land use licences of stone-crushing plants that have caused forest fires.

Cheewapap Cheewatham, director of the Forest Protection and Fire Control Bureau, said on Monday the move followed a fire at a crushing plant that spread and destroyed 109 rai of forest in Lampang province.

A 68-year-old security guard at the Silalin crushing plant in Mae Ta district of the northern province was  arrested on Friday for allegedly setting the forest fire. Forestry officials seized, as evidence, matches and pieces of mosquito coil tied together with elastic from his shelter near the edge of the burnt-out area.

The guard said he used the matches and wrapped mosquito coil only to burn off weeds near the shelter, and denied having started the forest fire.

The Silalin plant has a licence to use about 220 rai of forestland. The blaze burnt about 14 rai of its forest concession area, and another 94 rai of an adjacent national forest reserve, Mr Cheewapap said.

The company was held responsible for the destruction of the forest area, which would result in the termination of its licence to use the forest land, and it would have to pay the cost of reforestation, he said.

The security guard himself was legally liable to a maximum 200,000 baht fine and/or jail term of 10 years for starting the forest fire.

Mr Cheewapap said there were 61 stone-crushing plants operating on 48,213 rai of land in Lampang province, and there were signs of forest fires near some of the compounds. The offenders would face legal action, he said.

Smoke from fires in heavily forested Lampang province are among the major causes of the choking smog that frequently blights the northern region.


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