Major megaprojects clear EIA hurdle

Major megaprojects clear EIA hurdle

The National Environment Board (NEB) has passed Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for two megaprojects: the Mae Kam reservoir in Chiang Rai and a dual-track railway in the South.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon presided over Monday's NEB meeting at the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation, also attended by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa.

A source said the board approved the EIA reports on the two megaprojects, saying that the construction of Mae Kam reservoir in Chiang Rai will ease droughts and floods while the double-track railway project will improve freight transport and tourism in the South.

The two megaprojects will be proposed to the cabinet, and the contractors must strictly follow the conditions set out in the EIA reports.

The dual-track railway is a 321-kilometre line which will cover four southern provinces -- Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung and Songkhla -- and will have 65 stations, the source said.

The estimated cost of the railway's construction is 57.3 billion baht. The sum covers a budget for land expropriation, which amounts to 126 million baht, consultancy and management costing 1.1 billion baht and construction costing 56.1 billion baht.

The Surat Thani-Songkhla railway is expected to improve regional transport to be cost-saving, safe and convenient.

Passenger numbers during the first year of service are expected to be 7.7 million and reach 10.4 million in the next 10 years and 16.1 million in the next 20 years.

However, reports say that a stretch between Hat Yai district and Muang district in Songkhla, covering 29 kilometres, has been encroached upon by approximately 6,000 families.

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