Many places in Thailand’s rural districts still lack roads and electricity, and children have to do their homework by candlelight.
On August 3, villagers in Tak Province gathered and demanded support from government agencies such as the Ministry of Forestry, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to expedite the approval of electricity installation and road construction in their village. They have been waiting for 8 years and are facing legal obstacles.
Chanchai Kireechai, the head of the local administrative organization in Mae Usu Subdistrict, Tha Song Yang District, mentioned that 11 village leaders from different areas of Tak Province along with more than 50 villagers gathered to ask the authorities to manage and approve the forest area for their village.
The terrain where the villagers live is high and remote, making it difficult for them to reach the village. The dangerous journey poses risks to the students, especially on rainy days when the road becomes slippery and leads to frequent injuries.
The current problem is that the Forestry Department classifies the villagers’ area as Zone A, which means that it is a fertile watershed forest. However, the concrete and steel reinforced road requested by the villagers does not require logging and is only 4 meters wide.They need the road to enter and leave the village, but in the current situation, the villagers cannot even build a small path for a motorcycle.
Mr. Phada, a resident of Mae Ramat district, added that sometimes emergencies occur, but because of the slippery road, they cannot take patients out of the village. It takes over 6 hours on foot to reach the nearest medical facility, which is only 4 kilometers away. In some cases, people have even died trying to get medical help.
In addition, on rainy days when the road is slippery, the teacher and the health worker cannot travel and perform their duties. In some villages that are only 1 kilometer from the main road, there is no electricity because they fall under the jurisdiction of the forestry department.
Children have to study in the dark and do not have access to electricity as in other areas. The local government organization cannot provide budgetary funds to help. Therefore, they are asking the Forestry Department and the National Parks Department to urgently look into solving the problem.
Surachai Ajonbun, Director General of the Royal Forest Department, stated that he requested information from the director of the Forest Resources Management Office 4 in Tak Province regarding the Subdistrict Administrative Organization’s application for the use of forest areas, but the documents did not meet the requirements.
It must contain complete information documents along the construction plan for the forest border. There has been public commentary from the local community.
If the documents are complete, The Tak Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office and the Royal Forest Department will jointly inspect the land and provide recommendations to the governor of Tak Province. Then the governor sent a message to the Forest Department again, saying that various construction projects must not affect natural resources or the environment.
If they build on the exit road, they can ask for permission.