PM confirms SEZ assessments

PM confirms SEZ assessments

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attended FTI Outlook 2016, where he promised environmental and health studies before construction of the 10 special economic zones he plans. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attended FTI Outlook 2016, where he promised environmental and health studies before construction of the 10 special economic zones he plans. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

Environmental and health assessments must be conducted before the construction of power plants despite orders issued under Section 44 to clear the way for the development of 10 special economic zones (SEZs), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed yesterday.

The premier asserted that construction of power plants will depend on environment and health impact assessment (EHIA) reports and environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies.

Some industrial development projects have encountered legal issues as several areas were considered green and yellow protected zones. If the EHIAs and EIAs are not approved, construction will not proceed, insisted Gen Prayut.

The premier's assertion came after environmental activists and community residents voiced opposition to his two orders under Section 44 of the interim charter to fast-track the development of 10 SEZs to ensure the country's long-term power security and improve waste management.

The first order clears legal hurdles faced by the proposed SEZs in Tak, Mukdahan, Sa Kaeo, Songkhla, Trat, Nong Khai, Narathiwat, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom and Kanchanaburi. A city planning order regulating power plants and waste management was also suspended.

"The orders under Section 44 are not a shortcut for SEZ development. Do they know how many legal procedures are required for the construction of those plants? This measure has been carried out under city planning law for eight years. But, today it has been completed under my administration," added Gen Prayut.

Meanwhile, the Save Andaman from Coal group yesterday set a 15-day-deadline for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to exclude a clause that facilitates construction of a coal power plant in Krabi.

Save Andaman from Coal coordinator Prasitchai Nunuan said after a meeting with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Surasak Kanjanarat, that the group will return to the ministry on Feb 10 to check whether the demand had been met.

"We understand the legal procedure needed a certain period of time. We will wait and see whether the environment minister, who claimed that he shared our views on environment preservation and protection, will meet our request," Mr Prasitchai said at a news briefing yesterday.

Around 30 people from Save Andaman from Coal and its alliance held a sit-in front of the ministry, demanding to meet with Gen Surasak.

The group was granted a one-hour closed door meeting with him to find a resolution to the issue.


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