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Phuket

Road to encroachment divides Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Road to encroachment divides Phuket | The Thaiger

MAI KHAO, PHUKET: Villagers and local officials are at odds over whether a new road in Mai Khao caused the destruction of 25 rai of peat swamp forest – or stopped the encroachment from being much worse.

Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organization built the 28-million-baht road, which is 3.5 kilometers long and skirts the boundary of Jik Forest.

Mai Khao TAO President Sarawut Srisakhukham said the road was built for two reasons: “to serve the convenience of both tourists and local villagers, and to protect the forest from encroachment by investors.”

Nevertheless, he admitted the forest had shrunk from 102 rai to 77 rai since the road was built.

The road served as a boundary, protecting what remained of the peat swamp forest, he maintained.

“Private land and the forest are clearly separated by the road,” he said. “If we didn’t build it, I’m sure all the forest would be gone.”

But villagers complained that the road had actually caused the destruction of a large portion of the forest because new developments have sprung up along it.

Responding to their concerns, Phuket MP Chalermlak Kebsup asked the Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the House of Representatives to launch an investigation into the project.

Committee President Waruj Siriwat, Vice President Narit Khamnurak, Mr Chalermlak and Phuket Vice Governor Smith Palawatwichai visited the site on Thursday.

Mr Waruj confirmed that encroachment had occurred.

“Villagers are afraid the road has damaged the forest and that it will bring more property construction into the area,” he said.

“We have to check whether there was a public hearing and environmental impact assessment before the construction started,” he said, adding that the committee would have the answers by its next meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Waruj noted that the peat swamp and mangrove forests in the northwest of Phuket had been nominated by Thailand as a Ramsar Convention site, meaning they were of international importance and should be protected.

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty aimed at conserving the world’s wetlands to which Thailand is a signatory.

“In the future, these forests will become very important tourist attractions,” Mr Waruj said.

“I told President Sarawut I hoped this forest would be the last site to be encroached upon because it takes about 100 years to recover from the loss of biological variety,” he said.

His committee was determined to put an end to forest encroachment, he said.

When interviewed by the Gazette, Mr Sarawut was quick to defend the Jik Forest road project.

“I’ve confirmed that this project has been very useful to people coming to the beach, fishermen looking for fish and crabs, as well as investors,” he said.

After the committee finished its survey of Jik Forest, members went on to view an 8-rai plot of mangrove forest in Muang Mai, Village 5, tambon Thepkrasattri, part of which had also been destroyed.

A wide area of forest and a former canal had been filled with soil, while a pile of tires was set nearby in preparation to burn the trees.

Coconut trees were ready to plant in the plot as a sign of ownership.

The land belonged to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Mr Waruj said.

“We don’t understand why Phuket’s executives let these problems happen,” he said. “I told Vice Governor Smith [Palawatwichai] to focus on stopping encroachment and punish those responsible,” he said.

Villagers said the soil, tires and coconut trees had been brought to the site at night.

“We heard the truck running from the main road, but nobody dared check who was actually doing this…Many calls were made to the police, but there was no response,” one villager told the Gazette.

“We feel very upset because we love this land and plant more trees every year on Mother’s and Father’s Day… But now there’s no fish left in the canal for us.”

— Gazette Reporters



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Phuket

Phuket seastead will be removed today

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket seastead will be removed today | The Thaiger

The Third Naval Area Command will remove the seastead stationed off Phuket south-east coast today, belonging to an American bitcoin investor and seasteading innovators Ocean Builders.

Thai authorities plan to seize the structure as evidence in a criminal case. They fear the structure will continue to be a navigation hazard if left there.

US national Chad Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), are facing charges of threatening the Kingdom’s sovereignty. Last Sunday officials from the Royal Thai Navy and Phuket Maritime boarded the structure saying it violated Article 119 of the Criminal Code and also posed a navigational hazard.

The couple launched the ‘Ocean Builders’ seastead on February 2 off the coast of Phuket. The structure is located to the southeast of Koh Racha Yai, approximately 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometres) from the mainland.

Elwartowski has claimed that his seastead is outside Thailand’s territorial waters, but Thai authorities insist that it violates Article 119 and challenges Thailand’s territorial rights.

“The Royal Thai Navy has full authority and duty to protect national interest and marine sovereignty in the area,” according to a Navy spokesperson.

Regarding the couple’s claim that they feared for their lives, Vice Admiral Sitthiporn Maskasem, commander of the Third Naval Area, said that authorities had followed the legal procedures.

“We are neither hunting them down nor threatening them,” said the commander.

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North East

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy

The Thaiger

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Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | The Thaiger

Thailand suffers calamities at both ends of the annual weather spectrum – both drought and flood. But as the demands on agriculture grow, with a growing population and the rise of tourists and development, the effects of these two extremes are becoming more apparent.

Which leads us to this year’s outlook of lower rains which is exposing the poor management of the Kingdom’s water resources. Greater development and growing population bases hasn’t been met with more or larger water catchments.

So Thai farmers are expected to face a tough 2019 as forecasters say the drought will be more acute than usual, lowering the water levels in reservoirs in the central and northeastern provinces especially.

Int eh south, Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and surrounded by water, has an acute water shortage as of Songkran and, without adequate monsoonal rain between now and November, will be facing a water crisis if it has to rely on its own island resources.

The Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension Samran Saraban says the drought this year is exacerbated by El-Nino weather cycle which causes temperature to rise 1-2 degrees higher than normal and cause the water levels in major reservoirs to drop to worrisome level. Higher temperatures mean more evaporation and more usage of reserves.

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for farmers not to grow off-season rice as drought is predicted to spread into northeastern and eastern regions. That there will likely be a new administration coping with political instability will not help leaders focus on the country’s looming water shortage.

The long dry season will lower certain farm outputs, pushing up their prices. However, an overall farm income is set to decline because the drought will leave other negative affects to farmers who are also the consumers as well. This will affect the purchasing power of farm households, which account for one-third of Thais.

Etc, etc, etc.

Economists estimated the damage from the drought on the economy this year could be high. Kasikorn Research Center estimate the drought could cost at least 15.3 billion baht. Whilst Anusorn Tamajai, Dean of Economics Faculty, Rangsit University, estimates the drought to cost even more – 20-30 billion baht -because it would affect the outputs of off-season rice, sugarcane and tapioca.

“It will dampen the purchasing power of farmers in the second quarter.”

Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence chief Yanyong Thaicharoen said that the lackluster farm income can slash the growth rate of domestic consumption this year to 3.5% versus 4.6% growth last year, in addition to other factors, namely, high household debt and slower demand for durable goods.

Spending power from farmers, according to SCB, is crucial to sustain the growth of the economy. However, the grassroots economy is bracing for negative outlook this year.

There will be intense pressure on this season’s management of Thailand’s valuable water resources, through the remaining hot season and as the catchments gather water during the monsoon.

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger | Wikipedia

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People

Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal

The Thaiger

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Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Patong Police / Theeraphong Penmit / Newshawk Phuket

A Phuket boy has been rewarded after setting an excellent example for the rest of the Patong community.

8 year old Kosin Ta-ngam, who is studying at Sai Nam Yen School in Patong in Pratom Suksa Three, has been collecting garbage in the filthy Pak Bang Canal and along Patong Beach since the beginning of this year.

He lives with his grandmother and other relatives. His grandmother has been looking after Kosin since he was 10 months old.

A certificate, scholarship and life vest have been awarded to Kosin by the Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee for displaying excellent citizen for the community as a youth volunteer and being an active part of keeping the city clean.

The Pak Bang Canal, running through the back of Patong into Patong Bay, has been a dark, dirty mess for decades. Many promises have been made to clean it up but it remains a disgraceful waterway flowing through Phuket’s main tourist town.

The tiny eight year old seems to be able to achieve a lot more than the local municipality with all their money and machinery.

Kosin, you are the Thaiger hero for today and we salute you!

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

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