A LOCAL activist in the South has warned that the Thai Canal mega-project only provided one-sided information to local people and there was still no clear study on the impact of this project.
A study team has set up a public forum to promote the project in many provinces. The Thai Canal Study Group and the Thai-Chinese Trade and Industry Association yesterday held a public forum on the project, which will cut through the Malay Peninsula in the South from Trang to Songkhla and link the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand in Trang. The forum claimed the project would generate huge income to the country and solve the traffic problem in the Malacca Strait.
An activist in Phatthalung, Senee Jawisut, said that the plan to build the Thai Canal has been progressing quietly in four provinces – Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, and Songkhla – through which it could run. But as the emphasis was only on positive aspects of the project, locals may be convinced to agree with it, without realising the adverse impacts, he said.
“The Thai Canal is a gigantic project. It will surely have tremendous impacts on the environment and the people to a degree where the impact would not be reversible. But there is still no study about the impact and the people are only informed about the benefits from the project,” Senee said.
“A project of this scale must have a proper study, which must be publicised to all people, so we can discuss the pros and cons properly.”
The forum in Trang was told the project would consist of two parallel canals. Each canal will be 140 km long, 400 metres wide and 30 metres deep. Development projects would also be undertaken on both sides to serve as a transportation centre with deep-sea water ports. The budget was estimated at around Bt1.68 trillion.
General Phongthep Thetprateeb, chairman of the study committee and secretary-general of the Prem Tinsulanonda Statesman Foundation, said if the project gets the green light Thailand would have a lot of advantages. The Kingdom would also get backing from neighbouring countries as others will also benefit from it.
The information from the forum indicated estimated income from the project would be Bt120 billion per year and the project could reduce the navigation route around the Malay Peninsula by 700km. But he admitted the impacts were still unknown, so they would conduct studies to see if it was worth deploying resources for this profitable project. A preliminary study had been finished, but a full study would take three years to finish.