Prayut admits Chana locals voices were ignored, but refuses to halt controversial project
Though Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted on Monday that the controversial Chana Industrial Estate project in Songkhla will go ahead, he admitted that the state should pay more heed to local residents.
He also ordered state agencies to ensure the project is carried out transparently and as per people’s demands.
“This is a lesson for the government. Our aim was to boost economic activities in the South, but policy problems occurred so a review and more public input is necessary,” he said.
The premier’s statement came after 300 members of the “Chana Rak Thin” (Protect Homeland Chana) group began marching from the United Nations building towards Government House but were blocked by crowd-control police. Clashes broke out until protest leaders intervened.
Meanwhile, Seksakol Atthawong, a vice minister attached to the Prime Minister's Office, met the protesters’ representatives on Tuesday afternoon and accepted their petition to submit to the Cabinet later in the day.
Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow also announced he would travel to Chana district personally to gather facts.
- Chana fishermen renew their battle against industrial park, ready to join rally in Bangkok on Monday
- Bangkok police deny using violence against Chana protesters
- Songkhla rangers foil poachers’ plans
The group is rallying to pressure the government into suspending the development of the controversial Chana Industrial Estate until a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is completed. The protesters are also demanding that all legal action against the 37 protesters arrested on December 6 be dropped.
The group has set up camp, dubbed “Look Talay” (Children of the Sea), at the Chamai Maruchet Bridge to await the Cabinet’s resolution on the subject.
The Chana Industrial Estate will focus on the energy industry, with a 16,800-rai power plant and deep-water seaports. The locals, most of whom are fishermen, are afraid that this will have a huge impact on the environment and hurt their livelihood.