EARTH Thailand

Calls for suspension of EEC city plan

Bangkok Post 24 July 2019

Activists say draft lacks local input

A group of residents is urging Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to suspend a city plan being mulled for development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, saying it lacks local input.

About 50 members of the so-called Friends of the East Network lodged a petition, addressed to the prime minister, at the government complaints centre on Tuesday.

The group wants the premier to put the brakes on the plan, which they say would be destructive to people's livelihoods and the environment if implemented.

The plan was conceived without input from residents who stand to be most affected by the project, according to the group. The project aims to turn most of the land in the three provinces of Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong into industrial zones.

The government is banking on the EEC project changing the face of the three provinces, especially Chachoengsao which is a major agricultural centre.

Around 18 plots covering 35,788 rai in the EEC will be developed into new industrial estates. Eight of these plots will be in Chachoengsao, six in Chon Buri, and four in Rayong.

Kan Thatiyakul, the core leader of the network, said Gen Prayut should develop a new plan to include local residents' voices.

The formulation of the city plan -- made possible by the order issued by Gen Prayut when he was the leader of the now-dissolved National Council for Peace and Order -- has failed to respect the communities' rights and disregard the plan's impact on the environment, Mr Kan said.

Despite the feared repercussions of the plan, the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee (EECPC) is pressing ahead with getting the blueprint off the drawing board within a year.

In fact, the government should spend more time considering the project, which will be the first city plan of such scale related to industrial development, according to Mr Kan.

He added that the EEC city plan neglects to factor in the study on the economic potential of various areas within the development zones.

Mr Kan also claimed some of the land marked as agricultural zones will be changed to accommodate industries.

Tasanee Kiatpatraporn, deputy secretary-general of EECPC's Strategic Area and Community Development Group, said more than 40 public hearings were held to gauge people's opinions on the city plan.

Additionally, 78% of the city plan areas will be maintained for agricultural purposes.