Ministry officials pour water on temple project
Senior officials from the Culture Ministry yesterday expressed their objection to Phayao province's Bt1-billion project to restore an ancient temple under the waters of Kwan Phayao - the largest freshwater fish habitat under its supervision in the upper North.
Fine Arts Department director-general Arak Singhitkul said he disagreed with the idea because the temple had been submerged for a long time and draining the water would result in severe erosion to the brick work, requiring even more restoration work.
He said the project also posed a threat to the Kwan Phayao eco-system and the lives of the local fishing community.
Culture Minister Khunying Khaisri Sriaroon also disagreed with the attempt to restore the temple as another tourist attraction. She said that as there was no way the restoration could be done easily, it was not worth it. It would also affect locals who relied on fishing to survive.
Khunying Khaisri said the province should also clean up floating garbage and get rid of the water hyacinth to improve the environment.
Meanwhile, the Fisheries Department director-general, Jaranthada Karnasuta, said the department has not yet decided if it will allow the project to proceed.
Jaranthada, who was to meet Phayao Fishery Station officials later yesterday, said he would inspect the area later this month to consider the project details and the environmental impact before making a decision.
The department might allow the development project to go ahead if it was proved to have minimal impact on the environment, he said.
A team working for a wetland management panel at the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning is to give its opinion tomorrow, a source said.
The man-made lake was declared one of Thailand's 61 most important wetland areas with global ecological significance by a Cabinet resolution on August 1, 2000.
Phayao Governor Thanasek Asawanuwat initiated the development project to restore Wat Tilak Aram, a temple thought to be more than 500 years old, that has been submerged since the lake was created 68 years ago.