Court res­i­dences moun­tain site at risk from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters: ex­perts


THERE ARE sig­nif­i­cant risks of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters at the con­tro­ver­sial site where court of­fi­cials’ res­i­dences are be­ing built at the foot of Chi­ang Mai’s Doi Suthep Moun­tain, a team of ex­perts has con­cluded af­ter a site in­spec­tion.

“They should be dis­man­tled fast so as to pave the way for en­vi­ron­men­tal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion,” As­soc Pro­fes­sor Chu­choke Aryupong, who heads Chi­ang Mai Uni­ver­sity’s Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter man­age­ment, said yes­ter­day.

He was among ex­perts who in­spected the site with mem­bers of the En­gi­neer­ing In­sti­tute of Thai­land (EIT) on Tuesday.

Court of­fi­cials had planned to use the struc­tures as res­i­dences, but be­cause of strong protests from Chi­ang Mai peo­ple and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and in­ter­ven­tion by the gov­ern­ment, it has been agreed that the build­ings will not be used.

Chu­choke said that even with lit­tle rain, there was clear ero­sion at the site.

“This is be­cause the nat­u­ral sur­round­ing has been al­tered for the con­struc­tion. If land was left as it had long been, soil tex­ture would have been more solid. Ero­sion would have not been so clearly vis­i­ble,” he said.

He said that there was a risk of land­slides and struc­ture col­lapse and as the area was sur­rounded by abun­dant forests there was also the risk of for­est fires.

Bun­chong Som­boon­chai, a lec­turer at the Maejo Uni­ver­sity, said a huge amount of sludge had flowed from the site to the nearby wa­ter­ways, which was dam­ag­ing the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

“There are so many with­er­ing branch­less trees,” he said.

Bun­chong also no­ticed the risk of col­laps­ing struc­tures at the site.

Among the riski­est lo­ca­tions were zones ini­tially pre­pared for court pres­i­dents.

Teerasak Rup­suwan, co­or­di­na­tor of the Doi Suthep For­est Recla­ma­tion Net­work, said he hoped the gov­ern­ment would end the on­go­ing con­struc­tion at the site. “You can save many trees at the very least,” he said.

He said his net­work would stage a rally again on June 30 to fol­low up on the recla­ma­tion of the site.

The con­struc­tion of the res­i­dences has caused a ma­jor con­tro­versy be­cause they are seen as en­croach­ing on the Doi Sithep for­est zone.

Steep slopes around struc­tures that were ini­tially built to be the res­i­dences of court of­fi­cials in Chi­ang Mai prov­ince.

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