Cable car study nears completion
A long-awaited feasibility study exploring whether to build a cable car in Phu Kradung National Park in Phu Kradung district of Loei is several months from completion.
The study followed a cabinet resolution in 2012 that ordered the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to take responsibility for the long-postponed project after environmentalists protested.
Former natural resources and environment minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk, a Loei native, proposed the project, but environmentalists opposed it fearing large numbers of tourists would harm the environment.
Dasta, a public organisation, hired three private consulting firms to conduct the study last year. A statement said two rounds of public hearings were held in Loei province. Dasta said locals welcomed the project for the revenue it would bring into the area.
The final round of public hearings will be held in Bangkok next month, with completion of the study expected in November.
Dasta forecasts 7 million people will visit the park annually, or about 20,000 people a day, if the cable car is constructed. Currently, about 60,000 people visit each year. When built, the cable car would travel along a 4.4km route to the top of Phu Kradung mountain.
Nalikatibhag Sangsnit, Dasta's director-general, said route B, the one the study authors have chosen from five options, would have less impact on the environment and the ecological system. Trees cut down would be limited to the areas around support pillars. Construction equipment would be lifted in by helicopter, not by lorries.
"The 592 million-baht project will raise 185 million baht of its total revenue for locals," he said, urging environmentalists to open their minds to the idea.
He added that the final decision on whether to go ahead rests with Cabinet and that Dasta has only taken responsibility for the feasibility study.