EARTH Thailand

Residents, activists file court complaints over coal plant

The Nation 04 July 2012

Environmental activists and Map Ta Phut residents yesterday lodged a complaint against a mayor, accusing him of ignoring questionable practices at a coal processing plant despite more than five years of complaints by the community.

The complainants also asked the Central Administrative Court to revoke construction licences granted by Map Ta Phut mayor Wiriya Bulkul to Thai General Nice Coal and Coke Co and to indict Wiriya for his alleged unlawful judgement in favour of the firm despite open opposition by local residents.

Srisuwan Janya, chairman of the Stop Global Warming Association, led 79 residents in lodging the class-action complaint. He also demanded that future projects in Map Ta Phut undergo mandatory public referendum, environment and health impact assessments (EIA and HIA) under the Constitution, and that officials strictly followed regulations in making decisions that would affect the local environment.

Local community leader Wichian Sakcharoen said the Thai General Nice Coal and Coke compound, a 28-plant facility located in the middle of his community, was near completion and yet there was so far no proof that the construction had been permitted by the municipality and the mayor. He said no proof had been produced by either the firm or the municipality that the operation, regarded as hazardous, had undergone mandatory EIA and HIA. 

The chief of provincial industrial operation office, Bundit Thongsricharoen, said the firm had permits to build only the compound and other buildings, but its operations had not been authorised by the Department of Industrial Works, following strong opposition by the locals. He said that, pending an inspection by a team of his officials, he may charge the firm within 10 days with building manufacturing facilities without permission.