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A 150-strong force of Department of National Park officials have resumed the restoration of Nai Thon Beach in Phuket’s north, having razed seven encroaching structures there this morning (July 9), while issuing a demolition order for 10 more structures.
The inspection and demolition, led by DNP’s National Parks Director Samak Donnapee and Sirinat National Park chief Kitipat Tharapiban, was a follow-up on a previous inspection conducted back in May.
That inspection concluded with an order from the outgoing park chief for operators of eight encroaching, permanent structures on Nai Thon Beach to be removed within 90 days or face demolition at the will of officials.
However, officials this morning found that seven of the structures still remained, albeit already vacated and in various stages of deconstruction.
While demolishing the structures, officials became aware of 11 more encroaching structures along the 900-metre stretch of beach, some appearing to be vacated, but others seeming to be only temporarily abandoned.
Chief Kittipat said that charges will be pressed against encroaches and that orders to demolish the structures will be issued in accordance with the National Park Act (BE 2504), Section 22, which will give offenders a maximum of 90 days to comply.
“The initial notice will give the encroachers 30 days, and if they file an appeal with the National Park Department, they will be given an additional 30 days, after which the department [after upholding the order] will issue another 30 days to demolish the structures.
“After that point, if they [the offenders] still don’t demolish the structures, we will do it in accordance with Section 22, in which they will be liable for the expenses, which will depend on how many people we need and the going [labor] market rate,” he explained.
The chief added that the NPD will continue to work closely with Tachatchai Police, Department of Special Investigations and the Anti Money-Laundering Office on all national park encroachment cases.
“After speaking with locals, it has come to our attention that some [of the encroachers] have ‘bought’ or leased [long-term]their operation at the rate of B7 million per plot, and in the case of sub-lease deals, at a rate of between B300,000 to B400,000 per year.”
“We believe that all cases have the characteristics of the operators being Nai Toon (entrepreneurs), not Kon Joan (poor people), as claimed previously,”
When all is said and done, Mr Kitttipat estimated that it will take about six months to completely restore the beach to its original, natural condition.