Meeting set to examine moot project

Meeting set to examine moot project

Locals opposed to the Chana Industrial Estate project in Songkhla on Dec 14, 2020 move from Chamai Maruchet bridge to set up makeshift tents along the Prem Prachakorn canal in front of Government House. The cabinet later agreed to postpone the planned construction. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Locals opposed to the Chana Industrial Estate project in Songkhla on Dec 14, 2020 move from Chamai Maruchet bridge to set up makeshift tents along the Prem Prachakorn canal in front of Government House. The cabinet later agreed to postpone the planned construction. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The government is scheduled to hold a joint meeting with related agencies on Monday to discuss the future of the much-criticised Chana Industrial Estate in Songkhla after it decided to put the entire project on hold earlier this week.

According to a source from the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) who requested anonymity, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam will chair a meeting with related agencies including the SBPAC to find the best solution for the controversial industrial estate.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday the government would review the Chana Industrial Estate in Songkhla but the project won't be scrapped. The government put the entire project on hold on Monday of this week.

The cabinet approved in principle the Chana Industrial Estate in Songkhla on May 7, 2019, following a proposal by SBPAC.

The project has been touted as a model for future industrial developments by the SBPAC and many are banking on it to boost the local economy.

The private sector would contribute 100% investment in the project. It is a part of the government's development plans for the southernmost provinces, covering Chana district in Songkhla; Sungai Kolok district in Narathiwat; Betong in Yala; and Nong Chik district in Pattani.

The private sector will invest in all the infrastructure in the industrial estate. It was initially estimated there would be at least 200 private investment projects in the estate.

Nonetheless, the project has faced strong resistance from local communities and civic rights groups, especially since the government reportedly planned to rezone the land from agricultural to industrial use.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow said on Monday he would submit a letter to SBPAC asking it to put the scheme on hold and report the findings to Gen Prayut and Deputy prime minister Prawit Wongsuwon who is overseeing the scheme.

Capt Thamanat said the project had not been analysed by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDB) yet. However, the SBPAC source said once operated by the private sector, there is no need to ask the NESDB to screen it.

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