PHUKET: Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) director-general Manopat Huamuangkaew has warned that Phuket is now at the top of his priority list in demolishing illegal resorts encroaching on national park land.
Mr Manopat specifially identified Sirinath National Park, on Phuket's west coast, as his key interest in protecting public land in Phuket.
The news follows work beginning on the demolition of three illegal resorts on Koh Samet over the weekend, when DNP officials began removing doors at resorts illegally built at Khao Leam Ya - Mu Ko Samet National Park.
More than 500 national park officials were deployed to destroy the three resorts – Muk Samet, Unseen, and Ploy Samet – which had been built in the middle of the sea at the Khao Leam Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park.
Mr Manopat – along with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Vichet Kasemthongsri, the ministry's permanent secretary Chote Trachu, and deputy permanent secretary Wijarn Simachaya – yesterday led the mission to demolish the illegal resorts. The demolition is expected to be complete within 30 days.
The move comes after the ministry's panel decided to take legal action against illegal construction in national parks. They passed a resolution on August 16, ordering officials to demolish the three resorts.
The demolition was carried out under the authority vested in Section 22 of the National Park Act 1997, which allows state officials to demolish illegal construction in national park areas.
Mr Vichet said the ministry last year had instructed the owners of the three resorts to demolish the illegal constructions by themselves.
Instead of following the ministry's order, they filed an appeal to the Administrative Court to stay the demolition. But the court recently rejected the appeal of the resort owners, allowing the department to go ahead with its plan to demolish the illegal resorts.
"The owners of these three resorts must take responsibility for the expenditure incurred in the demolition," he said.
Mr Manopat said his department would spend three years to rehabilitate the marine ecosystem, which had been damaged by the three resorts.
Any business owners who want to build a resort or other facilities in any national park must seek permission from the DNP, he said.
Meanwhile, the operators of 12 resorts built in Thap Lan National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima have been ordered to vacate their properties.
By court order, the resorts must be demolished within 60 days, officials reported.
However, the operators also have 90 days to appeal the order.