Government holds public hearings on coal-fired power plant project in three southern provinces

The government yesterday held public hearing simultaneously on the controversial coal-fired power plant project in three southern provinces to sound out opinions from both supporters and opponents.

The three provinces where public hearings were held were in Hat Yai of Songkhla province, Krabi and Surat Thani.

The hearing saw the opponents expressing opinions on the environmental impact the project will have on ecology, nature and the sea which will affect tourism.

While the supporters said the project is necessary as demand for electricity is on the rise particularly when the southern economic corridor is set to be launched.

In Surat Thani, the hearing was held at the Diamond Plaza Hotel where over 1,260 people from four southern provinces Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon and Ranong took part.

Surat Thani Chamber of Commerce member Somchai Sinma said the southern region faced power supply instability but requested more time should be given to public hearings.

He added that all projects must pass the public hearings attended by local people.

In Krabi, where the coal-fired power plant is planned for the construction, Fourth Army commander Lt.Gen. Piyawat Nakwanich chaired the public hearing joined by about 1,300 local residents from Andaman coastal provinces of Krabi, Phang-nga, Phuket and Trang amid tight security.

In the opening, representatives from government offices recalled the energy situation in the southern region, saying the power demand has increased by five per cent from the previous year.

But members of the Save the Andaman Network from Coal Project, voiced opposition saying the project would have great impact on the environment and tourism in the area, which is well-known as tourist destinations to enjoy white sandy beaches and diving.

They proposed the government to opt for an alternative energy source for the planned power plant.

In Hat Yai, the hearing was held at the Prince of Songkhla University.

Fourth Army Region commander Lt Gen Kunawut Mokaew said after attending the hearing in Krabi that yesterday's public hearings were still inconclusive to make final decision.

After the hearings, the National Institute for Development Administration (NIDA) will wrap up the information and opinions to submit to the Prime Minister for decision making if the project is to go ahead or put off.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)