After years of negotiations, the authorities ordered many illegal developers and business operations in the Mon Jam area to raze their illegal buildings and stop encroaching on forestry land earlier last year.
Over the years there have been at least half a dozen stays on orders by the authorities, as locals and developers asked for extensions, reconsideration and negotiations; read more here, here and here.
Early yesterday morning a hoard of nearly 100 villagers surrounded inspecting officials at Mon Jam to express their displeasure at being ordered to demolish newly or under construction accommodations. It was reported that the situation became threatening at one point as the villagers refused to allow the officials to leave until they heard their four requests;
- To halt the orders of demolition against three operators,
- To allow local residents to earn a living from, and build on, land on which they live,
- To hurry to investigate the rights of residents in accordance with the 1997 and 1998 cabinet resolutions,
- To publish clear research findings as well as solutions for the area.
The Chiang Mai Land Management Office, which is in charge of overseeing national forest land, has come out to answer some of these requests and charges as follows:
As to the three operators who have been ordered to demolish their three story buildings which sit on a 30-45 degree slope, authorities confirm that they must do so in accordance with the law, as this order is legal and final; land owners who wish to build residences already have a channel to request doing so by contacting the Royal Project office of development in Mae Rim; all research has been done into the rights of residents and a resolution has been made, once in 2009 and again in 2019, each time rejected by villagers who also barred authorities from entering the area to fulfil their orders; and lastly, a full analysis and suggestions for resolutions and solutions were submitted to the Royal Project Development Office, Mae Rim on the 1st March, it will take 120 days to publish.
The Chiang Mai Land Management Office has confirmed that they have communicated regulations and laws to villagers consistently and clearly over the years, saying that all they do is for the protection of national interest, rather than private, ensuring the wellbeing of the environment.
A representative of the villagers told CityNews that reports of threatening behaviour by the villagers are untrue and that they were merely heated and passionate.