Chon Buri, a beachside region known for its serene beauty, made headlines yesterday when Chusak Nantithanyathada, the acting district chief, filed police complaints against a local resort owner and a village head. The allegations revolved around a construction project, which, according to the complaints, trespassed onto a coastal area in the picturesque Sattahip district.
This legal storm was stirred up by Chon Buri’s provincial governor, Thawatchai Srithong, who had tasked Chusak with investigating the situation following a complaint about possible land encroachment. Of interest was a rapidly-developing ramp situated behind a now-defunct resort in tambon Samae San in Moo 1. The inspection kicked off on Sept 4.
Senior Forestry Official Mongkrot Aunruang was able to confirm that the construction project had, indeed, encroached on coastal land. Utilizing GPS mapping, Mongkrot revealed that around 7 rai of the area was implicated. Finer details revealed a ramp stretching for 79 meters in length and 1 meter in width, ending in a concrete landing area.
During their field visit, investigators observed a flurry of construction activities including backhoes operating around the sandy beaches and trucks buzzing in and out of the construction site. Authorities immediately hit the brakes on the ongoing work while the investigation proceeded.
Clear traces of dredging were obvious—sand and rocks were found stacked in piles. Furthermore, it was verified that the area fell under forestland jurisdiction, a region strictly off-bounds for the general public. Regrettably, the responsible individuals had not sought necessary permissions from the local authorities to carry out constructions in the area.
The plot only thickened when the acting district chief surveyed the encroached area – the local leader then implicated Naruedon Pisittakasem, the owner of the previously mentioned paradise-lost-resort, and Apichart Aramrat, a village head in tambon Samae San in Moo 3. Shockingly, Aramrat was allegedly deeply involved in overseeing the unlawful construction project.
The duo were leveled with four serious charges, namely breach of forest laws, damaging state-owned land and the local ecosystem, and carrying out construction activities that flout the guidelines stipulated under Section 54 of the Forest Act. Their actions also contradicted the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act. Such grievous disregard for the environment is, indeed, a wake-up call and serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for more robust conservation laws and their stringent enforcement.