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New Phuket coastal property development under investigation

PHUKET: Cheewapap Cheewatham, a former Chief of Sirinath National Park who now serves as the Director of the Strategic and Forest Protection Division of the Royal Forest Department, today confirmed that an investigation is ongoing into whether a 416-unit development slated to be built in the hills overlooking Phuket’s Kata Noi Bay is on protected forest land.

constructionlandpropertynatural-resources
By The Phuket News

Saturday 24 February 2018, 04:43PM


Cheewapap Cheewatham (centre) investigates claims of a zip-line tourism business allegedly encroaching on protected forest land in Phuket last year. Photo: The Phuket News / file

Cheewapap Cheewatham (centre) investigates claims of a zip-line tourism business allegedly encroaching on protected forest land in Phuket last year. Photo: The Phuket News / file

The development is The Peaks Residences, on 17 rai high up on the coastal road overlooking Kata Noi.

The project’s masterplan says that the development is to feature 416 rooms – comprising 358 “One Bedroom Deluxe Suites” and 58 “Two Bedrooms Deluxe Suites” – spread out amongst 23 buildings. (See here.)

“I can confirm that our investigation is ongoing into land in Kata, on the Kata – Sai Yuan Rd,” Cheewapap confirmed to The Phuket News today (Feb 24).

Mr Cheewapap also confirmed that he inspected site on Feb 12.

Mr Cheewapap explained to The Phuket News that he began his investigation after receiving a complaint filed by Niran Thanapop.

The complaint pointed out that officials had not taken any action to investigate the project despite a formal complaint being presented to the Governor of Phuket in March last year.

The Governor at that time was Chockchai Dejamornthan

The complaint filed to Gov Chockchai identified the project in question as The Peaks Residence by Kata Beach Co Ltd.

The formal letter also included documents referring to public hearings held as part of conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project, and questioned the legitimacy of the NorSor 3 Gor land document presented as the claim to the land.

The complaint also included a petition listing the names of 103 people who disagreed with the project.

However, the complaint was presented to Gov Chockchai on Mar 27 last year.

Just eight days later Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on April 4 ordered Gov Chockchai to be transferred to take up the position of Special Inspector at the Prime Minister’s Office effective immediately. (See story here.)

The initial complaint alleged that construction of the project would destabilise the land and make the site at higher risk of landslides and that the clearing of trees and top soil would reduce the site’s capacity to soak up rain during heavy rainfall and prevent runoff from gushing down the steep hillside.

The letter also raised concerns that wastewater from the completed project would overload the private wastewater-treatment plant at the Kata Thani Beach Resort, which serves the small beach area at Kata Noi.

The initial complaint filed last year also noted that the NorSor 3 Gor for the site (No. 1863) was approved only on April 17, 2012.

Also, the complaint pointed out that while the NorSor 3 Gor itself recognises that land next the site is “forest”, the adjacent plot land in reality is home to the Forest Preserve Unit 43 office of the Royal Forest Department.

Further, the complaint filed last year even pointed out that in 2008 the Governor of Phuket at that time along with hotel investors and local villagers joined together to plant saplings on the land where the residential complex is to be built.

“We ask officials to check this land’s approval documents and to consider stopping this construction before this project harms villager,” the complaint said.

“We are still investigating whether or not the documents presented (by the developer) are genuine. The evidence we have gathered has been handed to the DSI (Department of Special Investigation) to investigate,” Mr Cheewapap told The Phuket News today.

“The same evidence has also been handed over to the MNRE (Ministry of Natural resources and Environment) for them to consider in taking any action in the case.

“I cannot estimate when the investigation will conclude,” he added.

A person who identified himself as the Genernal Manager at The Peaks Residence today declined to comment to The Phuket News about the issue.

“Please wait, we will hold a press conference about this soon,” he said, asking for The Phuket News to contact him again next week.

 

 

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Kurt | 25 February 2018 - 18:07:23

What is it with thai authorities that never before constructions but just after building they pop up to 'investigate'?
Are this departments which, sure, all the time knew what was illegal going on, and now hypocritically try to get their piece of fat kick off?
No one believes that project will be taken down. Do we?
Great sample of thai corruption.  ( this is the way we do it)

marcher | 25 February 2018 - 13:47:19

Whether land is owned or not its time to stop  stripping the hills of trees and turning them into eyesores. Pure greed. In the Western world planning control would keep this in check, but here anything goes. Pearl of the Andaman? What a joke. More like a pig sty

Asterix | 25 February 2018 - 11:24:25

How many lands in Phuket, especially at Sirinath National Park, Kamala hills and along Big Buddha Road, have been investigated since many years? How many encroachers lost their lands and went to jail with heavy fines to pay? Just few losers with compromises. The day we will see true investigations following with fines and jail sentences in court, grass-root people will trust civil servants.

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