Hundreds of Chiang Mai people Monday rallied at the center of Chiang Mai city in a rare show of unity among citizens of all political hues to protest a development project that would destroy nine rai of public green space.
The rally was organised by more than 30 civic organisations representing citizens’ groups that include local communities, schools, environmental groups, and religious organisations across multiple faiths.
The demonstrators opposed the department’s plan to let a private developer build almost 1,000 condominiums as well as shops on the people’s last green space in the northern capital.
Dr Deuntemduang Na-Chiengmai, former mayor of Chiang Mai said the plot “is the last large public green space left in the middle of this extraordinary historic city, and the Treasury Department, led by Director-General Chakkrit Parapantakul, is allowing a listed private sector property company to destroy it and replace it with a forest of concrete for condominiums and shops”.
“Until they give us clear answers as to their intentions with this land, and confirm that there will be no future development plans, we must continue to put pressure on them and demand answers,” Deuntemduang said.
“To add insult to injury, it is being done as Chiang Mai celebrates its 720th anniversary and UNESCO is considering the city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” she added.
The public green space is located in the historic district of Chang Klan, in the heart of Chiang Mai city, and is Treasury-owned land.
Dr Kemakorn Chaiprasit, associate dean of Faculty of Business Administration, Chiang Mai University said the plot “is one of the main attractions for more than nine million tourists who visit the province each year”. The city has grown rapidly, and its uncontrolled over-development is threatening to choke the city and destroy its charm.”
“It is particularly saddening that a government agency is working hand in hand with the private sector to destroy the last piece of public green space in the center of the city,” Kemakorn said, adding that the people would like to appeal the department to stop “such a tragedy from occurring”.
Renowned cardiologist and President of Lanna Bird Nature Conservation Club Dr Rungsrit Kanjanavanit said the green area acts as a lung for the city.
“The government policy is clear in its support for the creation and protection of green spaces within local communities and the Treasury Department is not only going against this national policy, but is also destroying an important local treasure as well as ignoring the wishes of the citizens of Chiang Mai,” Rungsrit said.