EARTH Thailand

Activists slam Egat's coal plant bidding

Impact on local community stressed

Bangkok Post 22 January 2017 | Apinya Wipatayotin

The Network of Songkhla-Pattani People's against the Coal-Fired Power Plant will meet the governor of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) next month to ask him if Egat has completed bidding on the planned construction of a coal power plant in Songkhla's Thepha district.

Derek Hamnakorn, the network coordinator, said yesterday that local villagers were unhappy with the latest report stating that the Egat had opened bidding for construction of a coal-fired power plant last month.

He said if the report was true, then Egat was going against the law because as far as he knew the project's environment and health impact assessment (EHIA) had neither been completed nor approved by the cabinet.

Mr Derek was speaking at a seminar on "Thailand and Paris Agreement: Coal, Power and Natural Resources" organised by EnLAW. The seminar was aimed at educating people to learn about the dangers of coal-fired power plants and how to make the country free from these environmental polluters.

As the principal of a Ponoh school in Thepha district, Mr Derek said the network previously submitted a letter to Egat asking the agency to help explain the matter. But their reply did not answer the network's question.

He added that Egat replied that it was very important to start the project because of power security in the South. It also said that prior bidding for the project was needed to make the project begin faster as it was time-consuming for the EHIA project approval.

He insisted the Section 44 order under the interim charter allowing basic infrastructure construction projects to start bidding procedures without the need to wait for EIA/EHIA study approval has not covered the power plant construction project.

"We want to know exactly when the bidding process began. If it is completed, we will file a complaint with the Administrative Court," Mr Derek said.

"We will also meet the [Egat] governor at his office to get answers, as he is the only one person to give us the answer."

Furthermore, Mr Derek said his network will also submit a letter to the French embassy, informing it that the Thai government has committed an action that goes against the Paris Agreement, where the government made a promise to the global community to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2030.

The government's support for coal negates its commitment to combating climate change, he said. A committee of experts is now considering the EHIA study of the 2,200 megawatt-coal power plant project amid strong protests from locals who fear negative impacts on health and environment from coal.