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White Sharks hunting for encroachers in Phuket mangroves

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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White Sharks hunting for encroachers in Phuket mangroves | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A new taskforce set up by the National Parks Department, known as ‘White Shark’, launched an investigation into alleged encroachment of more than 2,200 rai of mangrove forest in Phuket.

The taskforce mustered 200 officials to check several plots in Phuket. Officials estimate encroachment of the mangrove forest has cost the state 250 million baht.

Officials were split into eight teams led by Pongsapak Hiabsakul, director of the Coastal and Mangrove Forests Conservation Division, to carry out the operation, which started yesterday and will run until Tuesday.

They suspect about 82 rai of a golf course encroaches on mangrove forest. Operators of the golf course reportedly showed the officials land-title deeds for 801 rai. Officials plan to check the title deeds against state title deeds and have yet to press any charges, pending further investigation.

A prawn farm on 400 rai in Thalang district was among the sites inspected. Representatives of a private company showed the officials land-title deeds, which will also be checked.

Sakda Wichiansil, deputy director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, said that in 1961 Phuket had 21,021 rai of mangrove forest, yet recent aerial photographs showed that only 13,446 rai of such forest now remains.

He said the province that faced the most encroachment on mangrove forests was Samut Sakhon with 126,000 rai allegedly taken illegally, followed by Phetchaburi (35,200 rai), Samut Songkram (14,600 rai), and Phang Nga (3,680 rai). Most were taken for agricultural purposes.

“The department set a target this year to reclaim 15,000 rai of mangrove and coastal forests from people who illegally seized the land. So far, 10,694 rai has been reclaimed by the state. Another 4,306 rai is to be inspected this year,” Mr Sakda said.

Another taskforce set up by the National Parks Department filed a complaint with police yesterday after confiscating two young elephants from a zoo in Hua Hin iafter it was revealed the elephants did not have correct livestock identification forms.

The ‘King of the Tigers’ taskforce, led by Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, checked the zoo in Hua Hin’s Tambon Hin Lek Fai. They found 11 elephants. Two of them did not have the correct ID forms.

One, called Plai Bun, was four years old, but had a document that said it was 10 years old. The form also said the elephant had five front nails and four back nails but the elephant had only four nails on both front and back legs. It also did not have a hole on its ear lobe, as described in the ID form.

Officials also seized a 17-year-old elephant named Plai Moss, which has ivory tusks – while its ID form said it had no tusks.

Officials suspect that the zoo does not have complete and necessary documents to possess other wild animals such as tigers and bears. They said it had only a licence to operate the zoo but not documents to prove that the state had been notified about its possession of wildlife.

Operators of the zoo were given time to bring the documents to officials, but were told if they cannot comply, some of the wildlife would be confiscated.

On Friday, the government decided for the first time to list cases concerning wildlife smuggling, forest encroachment, and illegal logging as special cases that will be pursued under Department of Special Investigation laws, in order to keep up with criminal gangs and ‘influential figures’.

— The Nation

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Environment

Phuket’s water bosses claim there will be enough water

The Thaiger

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Phuket’s water bosses claim there will be enough water | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Bang Neow Dam in Thalang, just a few muddy ponds

Well into the second half of the Phuket wet season and the three main dams are well below capacity, Bang Wad Dam just over 13% capacity and the Bang Neow Dam in Thalang district around 5%, mostly unusable muddy ponds. The newer Khlong Katha in Chalong is at a much higher level, about 30% of capacity.

But this time of the year the three dams need to be well on their way to full capacity if the island is to get through the high tourists season and dry season without a repeat of last year’s muddle where provincial obfuscation and confusion put the health of thousands of residents at risk by cutting off their water supply and water trucks became more populous than passenger vans.

The lack of water also co-incides with increased development and more tourists arriving each year.

Now the Director of the Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office, Somsawat Chaisinsod, is calling for province administrators and the Phuket Provincial Waterworks Authority to begin water saving campaigns as the annual heavy rains in October may not arrive or be less frequent. The suggestion of water ‘restrictions’ was not mentioned in the meeting.

At a meeting attended by Phuket’s Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana, Mr. Somsawat claimed that the island’s annual rainfall, for the first seven months of 2019, has only been 10% less than average.

But the dams are a LOT more than 10% lower in capacity. In the case of the Bang Neow Dam in Srisoontorn, it’s virtually empty.

A representative from the PWA said that the Authority is currently buying 45,000 cubic metres of water per day from undisclosed “private sources” to top up the island’s potable water needs.

“The PWA is in the process of securing water supply from a new supplier to improve the water supply and reduce the volume of water drawn from the dams.”

Meanwhile Prapan Kanprasang, chief of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Phuket, told The Phuket News he “believes Phuket has enough water to the island through the next dry season, after the annual rains cease early November”.

“We have enough water to use.”

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Crime

Norwegian out on bail following death of British man at Centara Grand Resort in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Norwegian out on bail following death of British man at Centara Grand Resort in Phuket | The Thaiger

SCREENSHOT: bbc.com

The bbc.com are reporting that a British man died at the Centara Grand Hotel in Phuket in a fight after telling another guest to “keep the noise down” as his wife and son tried to sleep, according to the man’s family.

The details in the BBC report conflict with earlier local reports out of Phuket.

The BBC report says that 34 year old Amitpal Singh Bajaj from the UK complained about noise from the next room at the five-star Centara Grand Hotel on Karon beachfront in Phuket.

The man’s family claims that another man forced his way into their room via the balcony early on Wednesday, August 21. The family claims that the man strangled Mr Bajaj.

In a statement Amitpal’s 34 year old wife Bandhna Kaur Bajaj described to police how the attacker “barged” into their room naked and attacked her husband.

“My husband sacrificed his life to save my son’s life and mine. He will always be our hero.”

“My husband tried to block the man and move me and my son away. As the man was kicking, punching and just, beating him up, my husband told me to please leave and save our son,” according to the BBC report.

The rendering of the report from the BBC is quite different from Phuket’s local news reports.

In Phuket reports it stated that a fight started at 4am, when the British man Amitpal Singh Bajaj confronted Norwegian Roger Bullman over the amount of noise coming from his room.

“Mr Bullman was drunk, and security had already visited his room twice to ask him to keep the noise down. When Mr Bajaj confronted him, he stabbed Mr Bullman in the shoulder with a steak knife.

Mr Bullman, trained in martial arts, then got the British man in a choke hold and maintained his grip on him. He says he did not mean to kill him, and did not think he had.”

The BBC report says that Mrs Bajaj grabbed the couple’s 2 year old son and fled the hotel room to look for help. She says she ran down a staircase and hid under a tree with her son in her arms while calling the reception from her mobile to tell them what had happened.

“I asked the reception to please make sure someone attends to my husband… “please give him some medical help, I’m very scared, I’ve escaped”, according to the BBC report.

“I could still hear the attacker screaming. I didn’t want to be attacked.”

Mr Amitpal was taken to Patong Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a Norwegian citizen has been arrested in Thailand and is being provided consular assistance.

According to Phuket News, Karon police said that “Mr Bullman had been released on bail posted at the court, but was unable to confirm how much bail was posted at. Reports in the Norwegian media said that bail was posted at about 200,000 baht.”

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Phuket

Huawei technology working with the ‘smart city’ project in Phuket

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Huawei technology working with the ‘smart city’ project in Phuket | The Thaiger

Huawei Technologies impressed participants at this week’s ASEAN Smart Cities Network Conference & Exhibition in Bangkok with its white paper on smart city development in Phuket.

The paper aims to drive Thailand 4.0 initiatives to pave the way for major digital and infrastructure development in Phuket, one of Thailand’s pilot smart cities, and to provide insights and guidance on an integrated framework needed for a successful and sustainable urban transformation.

Inspired by Thailand 4.0 economic development program launched in 2016, the paper focuses on a practical ideas that helps empower Phuket communities for digital future.

Huawei conducted an assessment and case studies on the services and utilities required for a fully-developed smart city. The resulting white provides comprehensive insights into action plans to transform Phuket into a smart city by 2020.

The services include smart energy and utilities, smart mobility, smart environment, smart living and smart economy while the enablers are smart governance, smart infrastructure and smart people.

In his opening address, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa)’s president Dr. Nuttapon Nimmanpatcharin noted that thanks to the support from the National Smart City Committee and organizations from both public and private sectors, the smart city developments have already begun in 6 prioritized cities: Phuket, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and 3 EEC provinces.

“As one of our pilot cities, Phuket needs a clear development plan and a sustainable management model in order to fully transform into a smart city in 2020, this white paper will surely help facilitate smart city project for Phuket and other smart city candidates as well.”

Chanchai Tanatkatrakul, Principal, Roland Berger Thailand added: “We looked at global best practices and analysed local issues and requirements to develop this Smart City Framework for Phuket. Talking to various stakeholders helped us tailor our recommendations that can address the needs of Phuket and its people very well:”

Deng Feng, Managing Director of Huawei Thailand agreed, saying: “At Huawei, we promote industry development at all levels. As Thailand embarks on the journey to become one of the first countries in the region to develop a smart city scheme, we will provide practical recommendations and solutions to ensure a smooth and complete city development for Phuket and the rest of Thailand.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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