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Land on Phuket's Big Buddha cleared in what appears to be a ''grab''

Phuket Police Probe Big Buddha Land 'Heist'

Monday, April 5, 2010
TWENTY-ONE rai of public land on Phuket's iconic Big Buddha Hill is being misused as part of a commercial development, says the director of the Sorporkor Office, Treerawut Thawompatthanapong.

He has gone to Chalong Police Station to lodge a complaint that should lead to the arrest of those involved in clearing the land.

In 2007, the Phuket Provincial Court ruled against a man who claimed outright ownership of the land. The Sorporkor Office oversees public land above and below 80 metres that may be used on a temporary basis for agricultural purposes by local farmers.

Khun Treerawut said that he would seek orders from Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob against anyone who attempted to develop public land on Big Buddha Hill for their own benefit.

''The Governor is very concerned about the environment and about land cheats on the island,'' Khun Treerawut said. ''We expect the police will make an arrest in this case soon because we have evidence.''

Khun Treerawut said that he interviewed a man who was operating a bulldozer to clear the land. The man gave him the name of the contractor who had paid him to push over the trees and scrub.

''I don't know whether the plan is for a restaurant or a resort,'' the man told Khun Treerawut. ''I just had my orders to clear the land.''

Khun Treerawut has provided the police with documents from the 2007 court case.

It is not clear who has responsiblity for non-Sorporkor land developments above 80 metres along the Big Buddha road.

Phuket's residents and tourists have been watching what appears to be a race for development of commercial options, mostly restaurants with views, along the six-kilometre road leading up to the 380 metre peak, topped by the 45-metre white jade Big Buddha.

Phuket's tourism industry has benefitted from having Thailand's largest sitting buddha on a hilltop, with hundreds of tourists making their way up Nakkerd Hill every day.

However, the rapid growth of development along the road has provided justification for the concerns of environmentalists who failed in their attempt to prevent an exception to the 80-metre development height limit being made for the Big Buddha.
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Comments

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It is always after the land is cleared that authorities discover the infraction. Nobody ever notices the bulldozers, chainsaws, and felled and burning trees while the illegal activity is in process.

But now that the land has been cleared and rendered useless for anything but commercial development, then it will indeed be developed for commercial use.

This nonsense will stop as soon as all of Phuket has been paved over, which is not far off. Then they will just move clearing operations up to Phang Nga.

Posted by Treelover on April 5, 2010 13:41

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At least the law slows them down a little bit. Good, that finally someone who know filed a complaint. More of that would be nice. Kathu hills maybe?

Posted by Lena on April 5, 2010 16:06


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