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NCPO urged to cancel Highway 304 expansion

A major non-government group is calling on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to cancel a plan to expand Highway 304, saying the project would further destroy national heritage areas.

Srisuwan Janya, president of the Stop Global Warming Association Thailand (Thai SGWA), filed a complaint with the NCPO yesterday asking for the road expansion project to be re-evaluated and revoked in order to preserve Thailand's natural wealth.

Srisuwan also pointed out that this was in line with the junta's "return to happiness" campaign.

Earlier, NCPO deputy chief Admiral Narong Pipattanasai had agreed to consider an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the expansion of Highway 304 from a two-lane to a four-lane road.

The 335-kilometre long highway goes through Kabin Buri-Pak Thong Chai district in Nakhon Ratchasima province, through the Dong Phaya Yen mountains and past Khao Yai National Park. The report indicated the Bt2.99-billion road expansion would include an overpass and tunnels in order to reduce the risk of wildlife in the area being killed on the road.

However, Thai SGWA opposes the decision, saying it only focused on the economic aspects of the road and neglected the environmental damage it would cause. "The National Environmental Board should do its duty and protect the country's natural resources instead of just supporting investors or acting as a business representative," Srisuwan said.

"An enormous number of wild animals have been killed since Highway 304 was built, so its expansion should certainly be revoked," he said.

He noted that new members of the environmental board had just been appointed a few days ago, and wondered if they really understood the EIA report. He also pointed out that the report was more than 1,000 pages long. Besides, he said, the board did not have representatives from the private sector or proper conservationists.

He warned that if his complaint was ignored, his association and others who wish to preserve their country's natural resources will resort to legal measures to fight the road expansion.


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