EARTH Thailand

Ministry rejects local pollution plan

Bangkok Post 07 January 2010 | Apinya Wipatayotin

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has rejected a local plan to reduce pollution at Map Ta Phut, claiming a "lack of sound measures to tackle industrial pollution".

The Office of Natural Resources and Environment Policy and Planning (Onep), which is in charge of screening the plan before submitting it to the National Environment Board (NEB) for endorsement, asked local administrative organisations to revise the plan as it contained several flaws.

The plan was drafted by local administrative organisations in Muang and Ban Chang districts after the NEB in May last year declared Map Ta Phut municipality and four tambons in the two districts a pollution control zone.

The environment quality protection law requires local bodies in the pollution control zone to draft a pollution reduction plan for submission to the NEB within 120 days. Local administrators asked for an extension of the drafting period due to the complicated process involved.

Pollution Control Department chief Supat Wangwongwatana said the draft plan was "confusing" and required many amendments.

An example was the allocation of tasks to authorities which do not have the mandate to do the job.

"Under the plan, the local bodies propose up to 300 projects, worth over 10 billion baht, to tackle pollution problems," Mr Supat said.

"After scrutinising the projects, we've found many of them are unreasonable."

Rayong governor Sayomporn Limthai defended the pollution reduction plan, saying it contained necessary measures and projects to tackle industrial pollution problems.

"We have already reduced the number of projects to 46, valued at 200 million baht, but Onep has yet to consider our revised proposals," he said.

The projects include cleaning up water sources and devising methods to improve the community's ability to deal with other pollution problems.

Mr Sayomporn said Onep had spent too much time considering the proposed plan.

He urged it to quickly forward the plan to the NEB.

Local bodies would wait on the NEB's recommendations before adjusting the plan.

The governor played down concerns over delayed pollution reduction operations at Map Ta Phut as the government had already granted a budget of about 800 million baht budget to run five projects. They include waste management (270 million baht), tap water system expansion (260 million), upgrading hospitals (200 million) and mobile clinic services (58 million).