On Monday, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment gave the go-ahead to demolish 10 more resorts which were found to be encroaching on Doi Mon Cham in Chiang Mai.
The announcement was made after environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, and director-general of the Royal Forest Department, Jatuporn Buruspat, visited the popular tourist destination to inspect the planned demolition of Rai Nai Resort in tambon Poeng Yang.
Rai Nai is one of 113 resorts which is encroaching on Mae Rim National Park.
The resort operator was told to remove the structures which sit on the five-rai plot by 10th October this year. They did not comply so ministry officials will come to remove the structures, said Mr Silpa-archa.
The minister said the ministry has no intention to hurt the local economy by bulldozing the resorts. “We don’t want to cause any harm to local residents but we have to enforce the law and protect the area as it is a protected natural reserve,” he said.
As Doi Mon Cham and its watershed area have become a famous tourist attraction due to spectacular views and pristine environment, several hotel operators pushed to secure plots within the forest reserve and illegally converted them into resorts.
The plots of land were acquired from local villagers, who were permitted to reside within the national park as they lived there before the area was designated as a nature reserve as long as the land they owned was only used for growing crops they needed.
Out of the 113 plots, the ministry has managed to regain ownership of 30 plots. 26 resorts have been closed, while seven have been razed.
As for the remaining resorts, Chiang Mai’s provincial committee is still considering what action it will take against the operators, Mr Silpa-archa said. He said the committee will make a decision by the end of next month.