No decision on cable car project, government says

The government has yet to make a decision on the controversial Phu Kradueng cable car project, says government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Responding to criticism by environmentalists, Maj Gen Sansern said the cabinet has merely acknowledged the results of a feasibility study conducted by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta) on the cable car project proposed for Phu Kradueng in Loei.

"The cabinet asked Dasta to find additional technical information as we cannot focus only on the income from tourism alone since the project may have a negative impact on the environment if tourist numbers increase,'' he said.

"The project requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which will take around six months to complete,'' he added.

However, Dasta's director Nalik-atipak Saengsanit said the EIA is now complete and Dasta will submit the study to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) next month.

Col Nalik-atipak said the cabinet resolution made it clear the government to move ahead with the project. It also ordered state agencies, including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, to find a method to build the cable car to the national park.

Dasta started the feasibility study in November 2013, covering conceptual design, capacity and the park management plan.

Public hearings were conducted both in the province and in Bangkok. It said most people backed the project for its ability to boost incomes for locals and increase tourism-related business.

According to the EIA study, the cable site will start at a location within 3 km of the tourist information centre and requires a new road to the cable car station.

Seven pillars are needed to reach the mountain destination at Lang Pae covering a distance of 4.4 km. A mono-cable detachable gondola with eight seats has been proposed with a capacity to carry 4,000 people an hour.

It is expected the cable car project will attract more than 20,000 visitors a day or seven million people a year, compared to the current 4,700 people a day during the peak period.

However, the large number of tourists is unlikely to cause overcrowding at Phu Kradueng as most will make one-day visits, according to the study.

Source URL: Bangkok Post