EARTH Thailand

NESDB to submit eco-town guidelines

The Nation 10 February 2010 | Pongphon Sarnsamak

The National Economic and Social Development Board will submit its eco-town guidelines to the Joint Public-Private Sector Consultative Committee on February 22.

It hopes they will become the model for Map Ta Phut or a new industrial zone for upstream steel projects.

NESDB adviser Thanin Pa-em yesterday told a seminar hosted by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) the concept would reduce conflicts and encourage cooperation from all sides.

If the government and private sector cannot win the community's trust or march ahead with industrial, agricultural or ecological development, the future for economic development could be grim, he said.

FTI vice chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol said the initiative needed the support of all parties in order to succeed. If Map Ta Phut can be developed into an eco-town, it could be the prototype for other areas, which should minimise conflicts.

While companies must comply with Article 67 (2) of the Constitution, that addresses only short-term issues, but eco-towns represent a more lasting solution, he said.

Appeal planned for projects

The Office of the Attorney-General will reportedly file an appeal to stay an injunction against industrial projects with the Central Administrative Court on behalf of more than 10 of the affected projects on Friday or next Monday.

Senior prosecutor Banyat Wisutthimak said the appeal would contain new information, so that some of the projects could proceed with construction and others with equipment testing. Without the appeal, the damage to each of the projects could range from Bt500 million to Bt2 billion.

The court appeal is proceeding while the four-party panel working out solutions to the Map Ta Phut crisis is facing a growing internal rift that threatens to derail the process.

A panel source said Korbsak Sabhavasu, secretary-general to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, said the premier would closely monitor the conflicts over which list of industrial activities with serious impacts on health and the environment to use.

The panel plans to base its public hearings nationwide starting on February 19 on the list of 19 damaging activities completed by senior pollution expert Thongchai Phansawat in 2004.

But the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning first wants to organise a technical hearing tomorrow before concluding which activities should go on the list.

Thongchai has said the ministry has never indicated it agreed to his list.

The source said Korbsak volunteered to talk with Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti and would invite Abhisit to join the panel's meeting soon.

However, panel chairman Anand Panyarachun has quashed all criticism. He insists what is happening now is simply a result of differing opinions and that the members remain on course to find long-term solutions.