Locals want Chana estate project axed
'Daughter of the sea' submits petition
Residents of Chana district in Songkhla have petitioned Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to help halt a government plan to construct an industrial complex near the ocean, where many locals earn a living.
Kaireya Ramanyah, who calls herself "daughter of the sea", handed the petition to Government House's complaint centre. She represents residents from three tambons in the district who are calling on Gen Prayut to step in and help stop work on the Chana industrial complex.
Ms Kaireya accuses the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) of being behind the plan.
"If the government lets it happen, it will do more harm to the environment and people's health than good," Ms Kaireya said.
According to the petition, the project was approved by the cabinet in May last year. It said construction will take place in the tambons of Na Thap, Taling Chan and Sakom, covering 16,753 rai, including her village.
Ms Kaireya said many in the community depend on fishing and rich marine resources, which would be devastated if construction commences.
"The industrial [complex] only serves for the benefit of investors and does nothing for the community," she said, adding SBPAC was set up to develop communities and eliminate conflict in the South, not support the construction of such complexes.
SBPAC said 80% of people in Chana approved the project. It said the complex would help eliminate the insurgency, and conflicts in some districts of Songkhla are connected to the problems.
SBPAC said it held seminars and disseminated information to locals about the project before asking for approval from them.
"The centre conducted surveys on Monday," it said.
"[A total of] 76.4% of residents think they can benefit from it, while 13.1% do not think so, and 10.5% were unsure."
Chanathan Saengphum, deputy secretary-general of the SBPAC, said the complex will help improve living conditions, education and the health of surrounding communities.
He said 32 seminars have been held and locals enjoyed them, adding that if locals continue to take care of the ocean, they will not be affected by the development project.