Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has appointed a panel to look into disputes surrounding the controversial Chana industrial park project in Songkhla, says government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.
He said the panel, set up on Dec 3 and headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, will focus on an array of issues and gather input from locals with the aim of ensuring sustainable development of the southern region.
“The prime minister stresses that public input must be gathered and every step in the project’s implementation must be transparent. The goal is national development and local people’s interests,” he said.
The move is seen as an attempt to ease pressure from a group of protesters demanding an end to the government’s plan to establish an industrial development in their hometown.
Dozens of them protested outside Government House on Monday before they were dispersed and arrested by police.
They said they had come to the city to ask Gen Prayut when a promise, which had been made in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), would be kept after a year of government silence as work continued on the estate.
According to the group, the government pledged to scrap the development scheme and begin afresh with a new environmental impact assessment of the project.
Mr Thanakorn insisted the cabinet resolution on Dec 15 last year was a mere acknowledgement of a report involving discussions between “Chana Rak Thin” (Protect the Chana Homeland) group and a government panel to look into villagers’ complaints.
He said the panel has been assigned to coordinate with authorities in providing clear guidelines and to submit them to the cabinet for further consideration.
The “Chana Rak Thin” group yesterday stressed that it would carry on with its protests in front of the United Nations headquarters in the capital and resume rallies at Government House from Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that while an MoU was not the same as an agreement, it would be legally binding if it was acknowledged by the cabinet.
However, he said he did not remember if the MoU had been reviewed by the cabinet.
Source: Bangkok Post