House destroyers in crosshairs of Senate

House destroyers in crosshairs of Senate

Two Senate committees have petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to probe officials connected to the demolition of a heritage house in Phrae province.

Senator Wanchai Sornsiri said yesterday the two committees, one working on education and anti-graft investigation and the other tasked with religious and cultural affairs, had filed the petition with the NACC to find the culprits behind the tearing down of the old house, which served as a trading post.

Mr Wanchai said the demolition may constitute a criminal offence by violating the laws governing historical preservation. Knocking down the house without showing respect to its historical value showed a possible dereliction of duty on some officials' part, he added.

Several parties may be held to account, said Mr Wanchai: the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), the local forest conservation office, the Phrae provincial office, the provincial fine arts office and the contractor hired to carry out the demolition.

The senator said the house had been reduced to rubble. This amounted to destruction of a state property even though the house, located on the grounds of the Chetawan Arboretum in Muang district of Phrae, was not registered as a national treasure with the Fine Arts Department.

It was originally an office of the Bombay Burmah Trading Company, which was granted a logging concession in the western forests of the Yom River in 1889.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa has said the DNP is focusing inquiries on officials linked to the disbursement of state funds and he vowed to order serious disciplinary action against any officials found to have breached regulations.

Mr Varawut said earlier that DNP director-general Thanya Netithammakun had told him that the building's concrete foundations were in a state of disrepair and needed to be redone to make the structure safe to use again.

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