Planks seized from temple, abbot disappears

 Planks seized from temple, abbot disappears
Many illegally processed wood planks are found in the compound of Wat Nong Phla Sew in Sai Yok district, Kanchanaburi during a search on Thursday. (Photo: The Royal Forestry Department)

KANCHANABURI: More than 500 illegally processed wood planks were seized from a temple in Sai Yok district while the abbot disappeared during a search on Thursday.

Pairoj Khiewkaew, head of a forest protection unit in Sai Yok district, on Thursday led a combined team of forestry officials, soldiers, border police and local officials to search Wat Nong Phla Sew in tambon Sri Mongkhol. The operation followed the seizure of 22 illegally cut logs of prohibited tree species in the compound of Wang Yai and Mae Nam Noi national forest reserve in Sai Yoi district on June 25.

Phra Sayam Pliansee, also known as Phra Ajarn Dam, abbot of the temple, earlier admitted he had hired a man identified only as Wei to illegally fell trees and cut them inside the national forest reserve. The abbot claimed the logs would be used to build the temple’s entrance.

On Thursday, Paithoon Thanchaichon, kamnan of tambon Sri Monkhol told the combined team of officials that Phra Ajarn Dam was not at the temple and he did not know where he went.  

The officials searched the temple and found evidence of wood processing in the eastern part of the temple’s compound. They found 221 processed teak planks under a chapel was under construction. Two chainsaws were also found there. The team inspected another building in the western side of the temple and found 328 more processed planks of prohibited tree species.

The officials did not find any official stamps on the planks. All 549 wood planks were seized and taken to the forestry protection unit in Sai Yok district. The arresting team said it cost 626,160 baht in damage to the state. 

The officials went to Sai Yok police station to file a complaint against the abbot for violating Section 48 of the 1941 Forestry Act relating to illegally processing wood and illegal possession of processed wood planks of prohibited tree species without  permission. The monk has also been charged with illegal possession of chainsaws.

A total of 549 wood planks are seized from Nong Phla Sew temple in Kanchanaburi province while the abbot disappears. (Photo: The Royal Forestry Department)

The Royal Forestry Department photo

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