By KHANATHIT SRIHIRUNDAJ
Their concerns, they said yesterday, were based on the lesson they learned from the Eastern Seaboard Development programme more than 30 years ago.
“When the Eastern Seaboard initiative came to our hometown, the locals were promised that they would get free fertiliser from a plant that was being built for the agriculture sector.
“Yet we have received no free fertiliser so far,” said Utai Sornlaksap, chair of the Rubber Network Council and the Rubber Farmers Institute of Thailand. He added that the fertiliser plant had been built and then torn down. “Its structures were removed and sold as scrap,” Utai said.
He also pointed out that with industrial plants mushrooming everywhere, local farmers now have to purchase water at the cost of Bt13 per cubic metre.
Utai said he hoped the EEC initiative would show more care for local residents and farmers than the Eastern Seaboard Development Programme.
Wattana Banteangsuk, who chairs a health and medical cooperative, said more Rayong residents had fallen ill from the pollution caused by the Eastern Seaboard development.
“So, we hope the EEC initiative will consider setting up a fund that helps patients suffering from illnesses related to the EEC development,” Wattana said.
Like Utai, Wattana was speaking at a forum on town planning for a pilot area of the EEC, which covers Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao provinces.
Pikul Kitipol, who leads an agri-tourism network, believes the EEC initiative should |also support the agricultural sector and agritourism.
Agricultural Land Reform Office’s secretary-general Vinaroj Supsongsuk said farmers could use the land plots allocated to them by his office as collateral for loans.
“The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will recognise these land plots as collateral,” he said.
Prayood Sodsai, the head of a cooperative, said he hoped the EEC would create green areas because trees help cut down on pollution.