Illegal spiritual retreat seized in Thai national forest reserve

Photo courtesy of KhaoSod

The Forest Department, military, police, and local administrative bodies joined forces to seize an unauthorised spiritual retreat within a national forest reserve. The site included roads, buildings, and accommodations constructed illegally.

Pongpetch Kasupha, head of the Operation Unit of the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, and Chanchai Kijsakdapap, leader of the Forest Department’s Tiger Unit, accompanied by officers from the Environmental Crime Division and local administrators from Lom Sak District, Phetchabun Province, inspected the Ruesi Sombat Cave spiritual retreat yesterday, June 18. The inspection followed complaints about illegal occupation and construction within the national forest reserve on the mountain near Sombat Cave in Bung Nam Tao Subdistrict, Lom Sak District, Phetchabun Province.

During the inspection, two nuns and one male disciple of a monk were found at the site. Police discovered a concrete road leading up the mountain, a two-storey meditation hall, eight permanent structures with steel roofs, two steel-structured bridges, and various temporary constructions, totalling 24 items.

These constructions were erected without permission to utilise or reside in the national forest reserve and lacked the necessary construction permits as mandated by the Building Control Act from the Bung Nam Tao Subdistrict Administrative Organisation.

Police have taken initial actions by seizing the area and all constructions. Legal proceedings will follow, with charges pressed against the monk and his followers.

Locals had raised concerns about the increasing number of unauthorised constructions in protected areas, leading to the investigation and subsequent raid. The discovery of concrete roads and multiple permanent structures indicated a significant breach of regulations, necessitating immediate intervention.

The seized area and structures will be subject to further legal scrutiny, and the involved parties will face charges according to the law.

The Forest Department urges the public to report suspicious activities related to illegal land use or forest encroachment, reported KhaoSod.

In related news, Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary officers unveiled a case of alleged illicit encroachment involving monks from a highly revered temple in Chaiyaphum.

Central Thailand NewsCrime NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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