EARTH Thailand

Map Ta Phut panel wants to revive buffer zone

The Nation 02 February 2010 | Pongphon Sarnsamak

The Map Ta Phut four-party panel yesterday set up a subcommittee to study how to revive the buffer zone, which would separate the residential and industrial areas to avoid future crises.

The panel, chaired by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, has learned that the Map Ta Phut city plan, as conceived by the local authorities, will expire next year. The local authorities are hiring a private consultant to draft a new city plan.

Anand said the subcommittee will help local authorities draft the city plan by providing meaningful recommendations.

"The buffer zone between residential and industrial areas in Map Ta Phut and nearby areas must be outlined no matter how it reshapes the city's landscape," he said at a press conference yesterday, after a meeting of the four-party panel at Baan Phitsanulok.

The lack of a buffer zone is cited as the cause of the clash between villagers and industrial plants. In the past few years, industrial estates have expanded extensively, turning Map Ta Phut and nearby areas into a competitive petrochemical complex.

Anand said yesterday that the panel has to join the local authorities in drafting the new city plan for Map Ta Phut because the panel wants to bridge the gap.

"The compensation for the encroached area will be studied on a case-by-case basis," Anand said yesterday.

The subcommittee will be chaired by Industry Ministry deputy permanent secretary Kosol Jairangsri. Representatives from the civic group will also join this subcommittee.

The panel yesterday also approved the timeframe for the public hearing about 19 damaging activities. The subcommittee, chaired by senior pollution expert Thongchai Phansawat, will launch public hearings on February 19 in Chiang Mai, with the last one in Bangkok on March 17. The final list of industrial activities that damage the environment, health and the community is expected to be submitted to the panel by April-end.

Business owners are required to register at least five days before the public hearing at

Thongchai said the hearing will be based on the list completed by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. However, the list does not include the health impact and needs more opinion from stakeholders.

Srisuwan Janya, president of the Stop Global Warming Association, recently filed a petition to the Administrative Court against the formation of the temporary independent environmental body to review the environmental and health impact assessment.

Anand defended the decision and said the process complied with the Constitution's Article 67 (2).