By Pratch Rujivanarom
In a press conference on Wednesday at the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep), Egat deputy governor Saharat Boonpotipukdee responded to concerns raised by a group opposing the power plant.
He said the plant’s neighbours would profit from the 2,200-megawatt facility in Thepa district and their local traditions would be “cherished”.
He was hoping to alter plans by opponents to stage a mass rally next month, announced after Onep endorsed the Environmental and Health Impact Assessment on the project.
“Not only will this plant burn premium-quality coal from abroad to generate power,” Saharat said, “2 per cent of that power will come from burning biomass pellets that can be supplied by local people to earn income.
“We will encourage people to cultivate fast-growing trees, such as acacia and eucalyptus, and process components of the trees as biomass pellets that can be sold to the power plant or on the international market. The pellets currently sell for around Bt800 per tonne and the market price is still rising.”
Saharat stressed that the power plant would not affect people’s livelihoods or customs. Mosques and cemeteries at the construction site would be protected and people would still be able to conduct their traditional religious ceremonies, he said. A Muslim school on the site would be moved to a larger property nearby.
Onep secretary-general Raweewan Bhuridej insisted that the environmental assessment had been properly conducted and reviewed by experts.
People needn’t be concerned about environmental or health impacts, he said. The plant would be equipped with the necessary controls to ensure that pollutant emissions were acceptable.