If the riverside promenade goes ahead, it will have an inevitable impact on the waterway and the Chao Phraya ecosystem, official agencies and experts have warned.The design for the “Chao Phraya for All” riverside promenade by King Mongkut’s Institute of T
Construction work is slated to begin in the first quarter of next year.Relevant agencies and environmental experts fear the project would change the river forever.According to the KMITL design, the promenade will be almost entirely built over the river. The promenade will be seven to ten metres wide and will have twin round concrete poles with an 80-centimetres radius every 18 to 19 metres.Critics fear that the large structure over the water could block the current flow, obstruct navigation, and pollute the river.
However, KMITL has claimed the structure would not have a significant effect on river flow or transportation on the river.Royal Irrigation Department (RID) director-general Suthep Noipairoj said the department had representatives who worked with the KMITL study team and suggested how design of the promenade could avoid an impact on river drainage.
“As of now I think the promenade plan will not slow down the drainage capacity of the river, otherwise it would cause flooding,” Suthep said.“[However] a structure on the river will more or less have an impact on the river, so we have to make sure that the construction will be as planned and it will not slow down water drainage.
” Marine Department Engineering Bureau director Wanchai Bootthongdee said he also had concerns for river navigation, even though the department had representatives on the study team.
“We have department representatives working with KMITL team to monitor the structure over the waterway, which I have inspected. There is still no problem. The river will be narrowed down… but they (the KMITL team) must make sure the narrower river will not affect river transportation,
” Wanchai said.Meanwhile, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) director Nonn Panitvong said the promenade would push the river toward total ecological devastation.
“The Chao Phraya River’s ecosystem right now is already bad. It is almost 80 per cent dead, because the heart of the river ecosystem on the riverbank has already been destroyed.
However, a large structure over the river will further kill the river ecosystem and push it closer to a total ecologically dead river,” Nonn said. The promenade would make water beneath it putrid because the slower river flow from the poles would trap garbage in the river.
Due to the lack of sunshine, water quality would rapidly decrease and further destroy the river ecosystem.“I don’t know why we have to build such a project over the river and make the river narrower. This is totally in conflict with the river development in other countries, which aim to make the river broader and return the good ecosystem to the river,” he said.
“I hope the policymakers will think twice before giving the green light to such an expensive and devastating project.