City promenade plan under fire
Academics, experts and civic groups have called for a review of the Chao Phraya promenade project, due to concerns it will harm the surrounding environment and culture.
Speaking yesterday in Bangkok, an assistant professor at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Architecture, Khaisri Paksukcharoen, said the group wasn't against the project and agreed with the development.
"But we question how the project is being executed," Prof Khaisri said.
The government rushed through approval without a thorough study of the project's environmental and cultural impacts, she said.
Academics from Silpakorn, Thammasat and Kasetsart universities, the Green World Foundation, the Siam Society, Icomos Thai and networks of communities along the river also turned up at a press conference yesterday to criticise the way the project was being unrolled.
They expressed concern about what effect the enormous concrete structure would have on the environment, culture and landscape. If the project goes ahead, it will permanently damage the cultural landscape of the Chao Phraya River, Prof Khaisri said.
Also, the riverside promenade fails to link up with local communities it passes through, and fails to complement the local transportation networks. Other concerns were the lack of a feasibility study and public hearings.
Dubbed the "New Landmark of Thailand", the 19.5-metre wide and 7-kilometre-long promenade would stretch between Rama VII and Pin Klao bridges.
A budget of 14 billion baht has been approved for it. Construction is expected to start in January next year and end in July 2017.
According to a survey by Chula's faculty, Prof Khaisri said the project will affect at least 29 well-established communities, including eight government agency offices, eight schools and eight temples.