Officials withdraw action against mushroom pickers
Authorities on Thursday withdrew a lawsuit against three villagers accused of trespassing into a Si Sa Ket Plant Cultivation Station in tambon Nong Pai of Muang district to pick mushrooms.
The move followed an order made by the director-general of the Royal Forest Department, Atthaphon Charoenchansa, after learning that the chief of the station, Prapan Tanrungruangkit, on Wednesday assigned an official to lodge the lawsuit against Pranee Yokaeo, 63, Boonmee Ithidej, 59, and Tassaorn Yokaeo, 36.
According to the lawsuit, the chief accused the villagers who live in Ban Buararom of tambon Tongpid in Nam Kliang district, Si Sa Ket, of trespassing into the station's area to pick mushrooms without prior permission.
"Upon learning about the lawsuit, I ordered the station chief to withdraw it from local police immediately," Mr Atthapon said.
He said he has also instructed officials nationwide to take the case as an example of the need to be lenient on residents who might enter forests to forage for food such as bamboo shoots and mushrooms.
Some might be affected by the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and unable to make ends meet.
However, the residents must not harm forest areas, he said.
"I also told the chief of the [Si Sa Ket Plant Cultivation] station that we can't use law enforcement all the time. It is a moral principle that we help people in need," he said.
Ms Tassaorn, one of the three, told local police she left her house to pick mushrooms to feed her family members because she couldn't work because of the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.