Funds sought for study on cable car
The public organisation Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) has called on the government to provide funds for the study of a 3.8-km cable-car service at Phu Kradung National Park even as environmentalists continue to oppose the proposal.At a seminar held by DASTA entitled "Phu Kradung's cable car only a part of ecological system", Narikattipak Sangsanit said the agency has not resolved yet whether the cable-car system should be constructed, as it needs more information.
The government has assigned the DASTA and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to conduct a research on the matter but the agency has not received the Bt20 million in funds the government was supposed to allocate for the study.
Somsak Kachornchalermsak, chairman of the Northeastern Provincial Chamber of Commerce, said the private sector has been pushing for the development for the past 30 years. Former PM Thaksin Shinawatra had approved the study, which estimated that construction of a cable-car system would cost around Bt400 million. But there had not been any progress on the project until PM Yingluck Shinawatra took office.
Natural Resources Minister Preecha Rengsomboon has been pushing for the project in the belief that it would upgrade Loei's tourism to international standards.
Seub Nakasathien Foundation director Nopprat Naksathit, however, opposed the development on the grounds that the rise in the number of tourists throughout the year would stop the local ecological system recovering. He said that over the past 50 years, tourists had been visiting Phu Kradung from October to February and nature had seven months to restore itself. "If there are visitors throughout the year, we will destroy tourism because nature will lose its balance,'' he said.
Phu Kradung National Park chief Thitsak Suriyachaiwattana said the park had conducted a survey of locals and they said they wanted a cable-car system because children are not interested in being labourers to carry tourists and their belongings to the national park.
Paripon Wattanakham, a children's activist, said Phu Kradung does not belong to the people of Loei alone but to every Thai so they all should be allowed to take part in making the decision. "We must take into account the local way of life, traditions and local identity before making the decision,'' he said.
Sithichai Sithirat, a former Loei leader, said the development would destroy the local economy. Locals are able to trade goods along the route up to the park but if there is a cable-car, capitalists would grab this trade. He also opposed a rise in the fee to carry tourists' belongings from Bt15 per kg Bt30 per kg.