EARTH Thailand

Technical committee takes up study into pollution

Bangkok Post 14 January 2010 | Apinya Wipatayotin

The four-party panel tasked with resolving the Map Ta Phut impasse has set up a technical committee to study the pollution problems at the industrial area and help the government come up with control measures.

The technical committee, chaired by environmental management expert Sutin Yusook, has been asked to evaluate the environmental problems and track down and identify the main sources of the pollution at Map Ta Phut and nearby areas.

The committee has been given two months to complete its study, panel chairman Anand Panyarachun said.

Mr Anand yesterday played down concerns that the technical committee's work would overlap with that of other agencies, including the local administration organisations which have been working on a pollution reduction plan.

"Before setting up the [technical] committee, we have asked the relevant agencies what they have done so we can avoid work overlapping," he said.

The committee will focus on monitoring factories to see if they follow the environmental impact study's requirements, he said.

Mr Anand said pollution problems at Map Ta Phut had not been solved because of lax monitoring of emissions from industrial plants.

The former prime minister said he believed all the industrial projects suspended by the Central Administrative Court last September would be allowed to resume operations within six months if they complied with regulations under Section 67 of the constitution.

That section requires developers of projects with suspected heavy environmental and health impacts to conduct impact assessment studies and hold public hearings, while the government must consult an independent body on approving any "harmful" projects.

The government has put in place regulations for project developers and agencies to follow to fulfil the constitution's requirements based on the four-party panel's proposals.

"Now it's up to the operators of the suspended projects [to see] if they can fulfil the requirements to have their projects move forward," Mr Anand said.

All that remains for Mr Anand's panel, whose term ends in April, is to come up with a list of "harmful" projects that must comply with Section 67.

He said the panel had made a lot of progress in drawing up the list.