The Phu Kradueng cable car project has been put on hold due to concerns over its impact on the surrounding environment, according to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Patcharawat Wongsuwan.
After a mobile cabinet meeting in Nong Bua Lamphu yesterday, Pol Gen Patcharawat said the cabinet declined to approve the budget needed to fund the new design of the long-awaited cable car at the popular tourist destination in Loei.
Without a new design, the relevant agencies cannot carry out another environmental impact assessment (EIA), which is required by law as the project's original EIA was carried out over two decades ago.
Pol Gen Patcharawat said the ministry's permanent secretary, Jatuporn Buruspat, has been instructed to consult with the relevant agencies before approving the request.
Right before the meeting, PM's Office Minister Puangpet Chunlaiad said Loei's provincial authorities had asked the cabinet for 28 million baht to get the ball rolling on the project, which was first approved over twenty years ago.
Once completed, the new EIA will be submitted to the Ministry of Sports and Tourism for consideration by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), before the cabinet can reconsider it, she said.
Patcharawat: Budget was refused
Ms Puangpet went on to say that as a former MP for Loei, she wants to see the cable car finally being built, so tourists can access Phu Kradueng and enjoy the views from up top all year round.
"The project was approved in principle 20 or 30 years ago, but it has never been carried out. I want this project to succeed for the benefit of the people of Loei," Ms Puangpet said.
Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said the relevant authorities are still brainstorming ways to make the Phu Kradueng cable car project a reality.
He said careful consideration is needed as there are concerns over the project's impact on the environment.
Attapol Charoenchansa, acting chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the department has approved a request from Dasta to survey the site for the cable car project.
Under current regulations, Dasta has until the end of September 2025 to complete the survey.
However, speaking right after the cabinet turned down the funding request, Dasta director Athikun Kongmee said the agency is aiming to complete and submit the project's EIA to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) by next year.
Meanwhile, Ornyupa Sangkamarn, secretary-general of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, raised concerns about the impact the cable car would have on the mountain's biological diversity.
She said the cable car will increase the number of visitors to the park, which could have an adverse impact on the mountain's biodiversity.
Sutham Thammachart, chairman of Phu Kradueng park shop operator association, said he fully supported the cable car project, which would give a big boost to the province's tourism industry.