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Disputed land and residences of Doi Suthep have been returned to the Treasury Department

Residents of Chiang Mai hailed yesterday’s event as a success. The land and residences were returned to the Treasury Department by the Region 5 Appeal Court. Yesterday, the Department’s Director-General, Prapas Kong-Ied, received papers and house keys and paid a visit to the property. The Court had handed the contested property and housing project at the foot of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai to the Treasury Department after nearly four years of waiting, demonstrations, and negotiations. 45 homes will be razed and land will be transformed for the “benefit of the occupants,” according to the Department’s Director-General. According to the cabinet meeting, moving officers from the remaining 9 condominiums in the vicinity to the new housing complex in Chiang Rai will take four months. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wanted to build new bungalows for court officials on the disputed 33-acre property, which was originally supposed to be a forest for public use.

The project’s aerial shot went viral in Thailand in 2018. As a result, local activists affiliated with the Love Doi Suthep Group began a campaign to reclaim the public land and forest at the foot of Doi Suthep, and have been protesting ever since. Condominiums would have to wait four months, until September 7, as the cabinet had pledged. The group would then execute a traditional rite to welcome the forest’s soul back and encourage residents to help restore the forest by planting trees.

The Court of Justice, the Chiang Mai Provincial Treasury Department, and the Royal Thai Army would be in charge of the properties later. Furniture, electrical items, and decorations were still inside each of the residences, according to officials. Teerasak Roopsuwan, the coordinator of the Love Doi Suthep Group, commended the court for restoring the land to the villagers. Prapas continued, “Until yesterday’s verdict, the competent departments had worked tirelessly to resolve the matter.” He stated that all of the houses will be removed, and that the site would be overseen by the Provincial Treasury Department and a commission from Chiang Mai. The land would be managed in accordance with the needs and best interests of the community.

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