Conservationists protest steel-manufacturing project

Conservationists protest steel-manufacturing project

Members of the Bang Saphan Conservation Group Tuesday continued their fight against efforts to construct steel-production plants in their hometown, Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan. (Photo by Enlaw Foundation)
Members of the Bang Saphan Conservation Group Tuesday continued their fight against efforts to construct steel-production plants in their hometown, Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan. (Photo by Enlaw Foundation)

A Prachuap Khiri Khan conservation group on Tuesday continued its campaign against the government’s plan to promote steel production in the western province.

The Bang Saphan Conservation Group, representing residents in the district of the same name, converged at the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand office in Bangkok to voice its opposition to the planned development of a steel-production industry in Bang Saphan.

Led by Jintana Kaewkhao, the group submitted a protest letter and discussed the issue with IEAT governor Weerapong Chaiperm and industry permanent secretary Atchaka Siboonruang.

Their protest came in response to a March 24 press interview by Industry Minister Chakramon Phasukvanich in which he pledged to promote investments in the "upstream" steel sector in Bang Saphan district as part of a Western Seaboard project linking Myanmar's Dawei economic zone to an industrial zone comprising Prachuap Khiri Khan, Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi, Samut Songkhram, and Ratchaburi provinces.

The "upstream" plan -- which calls for both raw-material extraction and steel milling -- is due to be submitted for cabinet approval later this month.

Ms Jintana said her group strongly believed the steel manufacturing will cause environmental problems and damage the fishing, agricultural and tourism sectors in the district.

She alleged that Mr Chakramon only gave his support for the steel industry after talking with executives from Sahaviriya Steel Industries, the country's largest hot-rolled coil steelmaker.

Ms Jintana said the industry minister did not respect the opinions of the Bang Saphan community and ignored rulings and findings by various state agencies in recent years that the planned industrial estate must be scrapped due to environmental concerns and being against Prachuap Khiri Khan's strategic-development plan.

The group later continued their protest at the Board of Investment of Thailand office where they demanded the agency show good governance and social responsibility.

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