Ongoing discussion about the rather shaky looking future of puppet-PM Surayud has reminded me of the earlier controversy about his forest retreat. In a post from early this year, I wrote:
Matichon is carrying a report suggesting that Surayud’s rural retreat in Nakhon Ratchasima is located in “conservation zone” forest. Previous reports have stated that the land lies in “forest reserve”, a rather general category that covers a range of different land uses. But conservation forest is a rather different matter and it is generally regarded as warranting a high level of environmental protection. Government agencies and conservationist NGOs often express alarm about farming activities in conservation zones (often with exaggerated claims about dire environmental impacts). I wonder how they will react if it is confirmed that the PM is a high-profile forest encroacher?
I recall that at the time it was announced that the relevant government agencies would be carefully looking into the matter. I wonder if they have been able to come up with an answer? Is Surayud a conservation zone encroacher or not? Simple question, simple answer. I would be very happy to hear from any New Mandala readers who have more recent information on the case.
An interesting issue relating to this case is the role of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) in forest management. Surayud’s retreat is located very near EGAT’s Lam Ta Khong Pump Storage Project. As a result of their activities in the area EGAT has gained control of a swathe of forest land. Here is a table from a report on the area summarising EGAT’s forest holdings (I am not sure if the author wants the source to be cited):
The definition of some of the categories is not clear, but the table does highlight that EGAT is a substantial land holder in the local area.
I wonder if any of this land has found its way into other hands?