The Director-General of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has issued an order to demolish two resorts, encroaching on the Khao Kho National Park area, Phetchabun Province.
The directive comes after a group of more than ten people obstructed the access to the resorts, preventing authorities from carrying out the demolition. Legal action will be taken against them.
Several Hmong hill tribe people blocked the road leading to Khao Kho, preventing Mr. Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, the director of the National Park Office, and a team of administrative officials from proceeding with the demolition of two resorts, namely “Phutubberk Suansawan Resort” and “Good View-Hot View Phutubberk,” located within the Khao Kho National Park. These resorts had been previously ordered for removal. The group carried a placard indicating the prohibition of passage.
This situation had its origin in a legal dispute dating back to 2017, where a court handed down three-month suspended sentence to the defendants and ordered the demolition of the structures. Despite the court’s decision, the group did not demolish the resorts, so officials took the action today to enforce the law.
As officials approached the entrance to the resorts, located in Ban Nam Phueng Din, Lom Kao district, a group of about 40 Hmong hill tribe people used a pickup truck and a tractor to block the access to the resorts. Officials’ attempt to communicate the legal boundaries of the national park was met with resistance and accusations of unfair treatment. Efforts to read the court order aloud were futile, as the villagers remained unresponsive. Authorities then engaged in negotiations, proposing two options:
- Requesting permission to enter the area for the lawful demolition of the structures, which the group adamantly refused.
- Proposing the deployment of officials to mark the boundaries of the national park with paint without initiating the demolition, with some members of the group expressing agreement. However, in the end, they rejected any further action by the officials.
Officials then divided into two groups—one at the front and one at the rear—while the villagers resisted from both sides. The authorities successfully removed seven power poles and five sets of solar panels in the vicinity of the Good View-Hot View resort. However, they were obstructed from removing any structures at the Phutubberk Suan Sawan Resort. By using women as the frontline, the group attempted to confront the officials. The men positioned themselves behind, initiating provocative actions to incite the women to engage in a confrontation with the authorities. They spoke derogatorily and livestreamed the events through online media.
The intention seemed to be to provoke the officials into using force. Despite officials attempting to negotiate, the villagers remained unwilling to listen. To avoid clashes between officials and the people, there was no attempt to forcibly enter and demolish the structures. However, it was discovered that those who gathered today came from other villages.
Following the incident, Mr. Atthapol Charoenchansa, the director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, received reports and promptly ordered the demolition of the encroaching structures to set an example and discourage further encroachment. Legal action is also being pursued against those who hindered the officials, with evidence in the form of photos and videos collected for prosecution.
Meanwhile, the owners of the vehicles used to block the road and prevent officials’ operation will face legal action although they managed to drive away before officials could take action to move their vehicles to the police station. (TNA)