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New Problems Ready To Bubble Up In Map Ta Phut Saga


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New problems ready to bubble up

By The Nation


Korbsak says 18-industry list not practical, because some are beneficial

A new round of dispute in the Map Ta Phut industrial estate saga between villagers affected by businesses deemed harmful to health, and the authorities is set to soon begin after the former demand that 18 of them should be on the watchlist.

Secretary to the PM Korbsak Saphavasu, speaking before the National Human Rights Comittee yesterday, said the 18-business list was not logical in practice, and endorsed the recent announcement of 11 businesses as the best solution to go ahead with the long-delayed development scheme.

A televised debate could be opened soon for all parties involved in the four-part committee tasked with working out measures to unlock legal restriction barring 76 businesses from being continued, Korbsak said.

Among others, the villagers want these two types of operations regarded harmful to heath and environment, so that health impact assessment (HIA) and environment impact assessment (EIA) are required before they get permits to operate.

Certain operations opposed to by villagers are indeed important to the society as the whole, he said, citing as examples garbage incineration and natural gas-fuled power plant projects, which Korbsak said should operated without mandatory EIA or HIA.

In the contrary, the villagers, who are part of the four-part committee , say they are fine with underground saline suction projects not deemed harmful, but the authorities left it out of the 11-business watchlist.

"Keeping in the list would mean that the underground saline suction operations are still permitted technically," Korbsak said.

He said the prime minister would soon make a televised statement telling the public about the overall progress of the entire Map Ta Phut industrial estate issue. Abhisit Vejjajiva will also, again, defend the 11-business list in a television show in manners similar he once took part in a programme over the Phrea Vihear temple dispute with Cambodia.

Suthi Atchasai, an activist representing the villagers, said he would join in the debate, which he said was not the final forum in ending the dispute over the 11-business list, because the government would be further questioned and protested against over several technical points it had not yet cleared up.

A meeting of villagers' networks will be called on Monday to discuss solutions and latest proposals from each group, before all of them would be submitted to the Cabinet meeting the day after.

"If there is nothing clear in the government's gesture to accept our solutions and proposals, a mass rally at the Map Ta Phut estate in Rayong will begin together with simultaneous protests at other sites facing similar environmental problems," he added.

The National Environment Board defended the 11-business list, saying that it was finalised based on recommendations supplied by the four-part committee, with villagers' concerns fully heeded.

NEB advisor Wichien Keeratinijjakal said the problems with the Map Ta Phut issue would continue with the list containing either 11 or 18 busineses, unless regulations were enforced flexibly and effectively to ensure profits while preserving environment and guaranteeing good health.


-- The Nation 2010-09-17

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