EARTH Thailand

Minister says he will rescue Map Ta Phut

Bangkok Post 10 November 2009 | Apinya Wipatayotin

Pollution to be fixed 'within three months'

RAYONG: Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu has told people affected by industrial pollution in Map Ta Phut he will improve the environment within three months.

Mr Korbsak yesterday travelled to Map Ta Phut and nearby industrial estates - his first visit since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assigned him to oversee the pollution problem in this eastern industrial town late last month.

He also promised to visit the pollution control zone every other week to monitor progress in cleaning up the area and the rehabilitation of residents affected by industrial pollution.

Six tambons in Muang Rayong and Ban Chang districts were declared a pollution control zone in May following a ruling by Rayong Administrative Court in March.

Mr Korbsak said he would seek cabinet approval for a special budget to tackle the problem.

The deputy prime minister told the villagers to draw up a list of pollution-related problems they wanted the government to solve first and propose projects to solve the problems.

"Don't worry about money. I will take responsibility for that," Mr Korbsak told the villagers during a meeting with local officials.

He ordered officials to inspect factories located in the pollution control zone to see if they have followed environmental protection measures as required by their environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports.

With these measures, Mr Korbsak said he expected Map Ta Phut's pollution problem to show improvement within three months.

"Map Ta Phut is a case study of a development scheme which yields success in terms of GDP growth but fails to protect the environment," he said.

Poch Nilwong, headmaster of Ban Nong Fab School which is next to the industrial estate, told Mr Korbsak the school needed air-conditioning in the classrooms for its 300 pupils as a safeguard from foul smells emitted from nearby factories.

The air pollution problem was particularly serious during the cool season when strong winds blow from the industrial sites to the school.

Villagers believe factories refrain from emitting pollution when senior figures visit to try to show the pollution problem is not as serious as locals suggest. Rayong governor Sayomporn Limthai said local administrations in the six tambons under the pollution control zone had completed a draft pollution control plan.