Resort buildings razed in illegal buildings crackdown
The Royal Forestry Department (RFD) has dismantled eight resort buildings which were illegally built on the hills of Mon Cham, a popular tourist destination in Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district and vowed to clear dozens of other illegal structures.
The demolition follows a directive issued in mid-January by Mae Rim district office ordering resorts and other business at Doi Mon Cham in tambon Pong Yaeng and tambon Mae Raem to stop operations within 30 days as they were built on protected forest land without permission.
According to officials at the 1st forestry management office, legal proceedings have begun against the operators of the eight resort houses where the rights to use the land have been transferred to outsiders.
The buildings are among 149 structures which will be demolished.
Their operators, 29 in total, have been charged with forest encroachment and violating the Building Control Act, according to the officials.
Another 80 resort operators are under investigation for alleged misuse of the land, said the forestry officials.
The RFD launched an investigation into land-holding in Mon Cham in March 2017 as part of the crackdown on forest encroachment and found that more than 100 operators were encroaching on the forest reserve covering 363 rai.
Back in 1998, the department granted 2,800 rai of land on Mon Cham, which is part of Mae Rim forest reserve, to poor and landless farmers in line with a cabinet resolution.
However, many of them allegedly transferred their land to outsiders, who turned the plots into tourist resorts.
Forestry officials said the encroachment in Mon Cham is similar to that on Phu Thap Boek in Phetchabun province where the land was originally reserved for the resettlement of Hmong people.