A budget of 28 million baht was approved by the cabinet at its recent mobile meeting to fund the design of a controversial cable car project running up Phu Kradueng national park in Loei, said an MP representing the province.
The statement by Lertsak Watthanachaikul, a Pheu Thai Party MP for Loei, also mirrored that of PM's Office Minister Puangpet Chunlaiad, also a former Loei MP, who confirmed the design fund was put before the cabinet at its meeting in Nong Bua Lam Phu on Dec 4.
Ms Puangpet went on to say the cabinet agreed in principle with the fund to produce a cable car blueprint.
The statements contradicted comments by government spokesman Chai Wacharonke who earlier denied the cabinet had discussed the project on that date.
Mr Lertsak explained on Thursday that the Dec 4 cabinet session did not consider the cable car as a standalone project. The design fund was sought as part of a wider budget for the development of Loei province.
The project, which has bitterly split public opinion, was given the go-ahead in principle by the Yingluck Shinawatra administration in 2012 and a feasibility study was ordered.
Having been given a green light in 2012, the project needs not be approved in principle by a subsequent cabinet. The feasibility conducted previously has also been updated.
Confusion has reigned over whether the project was given the nod at the Dec 4 meeting. In fact, the issue was passed to the cabinet's attention as one of the items in Loei's development plan, the MP said.
"The cable car policy is pressing ahead," he said, adding it is backed by local residents for the economic progress it will bring.
He downplayed fears of environmental destruction from cable car construction and overtourism, saying the carrying capacity of Phu Kradueng will be taken into consideration.
Sasin Chalermlarp, chairman of the Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation and a noted conservationist, described Pheu Kradueng on Facebook on Thursday as the country's best trekking trail.