Phuket

Residents ‘will resist’ Kamala plan

PHUKET: A 331 million-baht plan for the post-tsunami rebuilding of Kamala has set local residents against Phuket governor Udomsak Usawarangkura.

Under the plan – drawn up after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for damaged areas to be reconstructed in a way that would make them “beautiful and safe” – residents would be prohibited from returning to homes near the beach, and would be relocated to a site near Kamala Police Station.

The land could accommodate 120 units, to house 200 homelss people, and the government is already in the process of building homes there, at a cost of 100,000 baht per unit.

The plan also includes creating a “green belt buffer” of sand dunes and large plants around the beach, to mitigate the damage from future tsunamis, and adding another 24 meters to the road around the beach.

The recovery plan was unveiled by the Director General of the Office of Tourism Development, Sasithara Pichaichannarong, on January 13, at a meeting at Gov Udomsak’s office, attended by members of Kamala Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor).

Gov Udomsak welcomed the plan, saying the post-tsunami recovery was a good opportunity to move people who had illegally occupied state land.

“If they don’t move voluntarily, the government will take them to court to get them removed,” he said.

But OrBorTor member Tiwa Khunthong said householders – such as those who had spent more than two million baht on their homes – wanted to rebuild. Some have already started to repair their homes, said K. Tiwa, and they would resist any attempt to move them.

“If the government demolishes the houses and forces the residents to move to government housing, then the government should also demolish the hotels in that area too. There shouldn’t be one law for householders and another for hoteliers,” he said.

Sanoh Ploykho, the kamnan (headman) of Kamala village said he had helped neighbours hit by the disaster, giving them food, and also money to help them rebuild their homes.

“I haven’t seen any government agencies do anything like that, and, having seen this plan, I’d say it will only add to the difficulties caused to these people by the tsunami. They won’t like what the government wants them to do.”

Kathu District Chief Officer Kantee Sinlapa suggested that there should be a public hearing about the proposals. Local people could have their say and this would, he hoped, resolve the disagreement between the government and the locals.

“I don’t care if this costs me my job,” said K. Kantee, “I want to resolve the problem and defend the interests of residents.”

The public hearing is due to be held on Monday (January 17) at Kamala Police Station.

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