By PAKAWAN ROJANASINGSAWAD
A PLANNED coal-fired power plant could destroy the sustainable economic life cycle of Krabi and also affect the whole national economic system, the business sector in Krabi has warned.
The Save Andaman from Coal network in collaboration with the Energy and Natural Resources Policy Research Centre of Rangsit University has organised a seminar entitled “Coal-fired plants VS Andaman Tourism – Can They Co-exist?”
The gathering on Monday at Rangsit University’s Viphavadee Study Centre will review the impact of coal-fired power plants and call on the government to terminate such projects in Krabi and at other Andaman coastal provinces.
Amarit Siripornjuthakul, chairman of Krabi Industry Council, defined the connections between three major economic activities in Krabi – agriculture, fisheries and tourism – which have supported local communities for generations. Coal, they said, could destroy this cycle.
Amarit reaffirmed the network itself was neither against the development nor the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat).
However, he suggested that Egat should use instead biodiesel energy like palm oil, which could be produced by the locals and benefit both the region and the nation.
“The latest Power Development Plan [PDP 2015] has contradicted the current world movement where most countries are trying to cut down the use of coal-fired energy, aware of its impact,” he claimed.
The network revealed there were plans to operate nine more coal-fired power plants in Thailand according to the recent PDP, while Egat’s 800 megawatt Klongrua coal-fired power plant is scheduled for Krabi’s Nuea Khlong district. It was due to start construction in 2016 and be complete by 2019.
The Andaman issue has attracted most attention as tourism is the dominant economic engine of the region. Many local people are aware that the impact of a coal-fired plant might slow down the country’s economic growth.
“The overall economy in the South is ranked third, worth 10.7 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, behind only Bangkok and the East. But if tourism is destroyed, the economic situation could [suffer],” Wattana Thanasakcharorn, president of the Krabi Chamber of Commerce, said.
Other speakers included ML Kasiwat Kasemsri, a representative of the people’s network, and Asst Prof Prasart Meetam, an independent scholar.
The campaign’s supporters have also reviewed possible losses in terms of the economic and environmental impact of the coal-fired plant projects.
The representatives produced an official statement to the press demanding the government put an end to the coal-fired electricity-generating projects in Krabi.