Revoke Article 44, say NGOs

A MASSIVE coalition of 60 civil society groups have urged the government to refrain from exercising special powers under Article 44 of the interim charter, which recently allowed major development projects to bypass proper Environme-ntal Impact Assessments (EIAs).

At yesterday's panel discussion on the issue, non-government organisations (NGOs) also warned that conflicts with affected communities could result in violence.

SRT proposes seven rail projects

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will propose seven dual-track railway routes to the cabinet for its approval this month.

SRT Governor Wutthichart Kalayanamitr yesterday said the seven double-track rail lines will be submitted to the Transport Ministry before being forwarded to the cabinet.

If the submissions are approved, bidding for the seven rail routes will be held.

The SRT planned to propose the seven railway projects after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha exercised Section 44 of the interim charter to fast-track them.

BMA dredges weeds out of canals for water management

BANGKOK, 18 March 2016 (NNT) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has dispatched more than 500 officials to different areas across the capital city to remove water hyacinths, as part of efforts to mitigate flood and drought.

Bangkok Deputy Governor Amorn Kitchawengkul presided over the opening ceremony at Lat Krabang district. The event was attended by Director of the Department of Drainage and Sewerage Sompong Wiangkaew, relevant division heads, and BMA officials.

NCPO dead wrong in ignoring the EIA process

LAST WEEK Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), issued an order that will result in cutting lengthy development procedures for some state projects so preparations for construction can be controversially carried out parallel to environmental impact assessments (EIA’s).

That practice contradicts what is stated in the Environmental Promotion and Protection Act.

The preparation for a project before it has received an EIA could proceed with Cabinet endorsement.

NCPO orders ‘will cause more conflict’

EXPERTS have warned that the government will be responsible for more serious rights violations, plus economic disparity - and the next political time-bomb - if it continues its use of "special power".

Key panellists at an academic conference yesterday on communal rights, the environment and city planning, urged the government to stop using power under Article 44 of the interim charter, as they voiced concern that it would cause a new round of political conflict.

The event was arranged by 11 public organisations, plus Rangsit and Thammasat universities.

Flight in North cancelled as haze problem worsens

KAN Air cancelled a Chiang Mai-bound flight yesterday after the haze problem in Mae Hong Son rose to high levels in the Upper North, resulting in visibility being restricted to less than 1,000 metres, Mae Hong Son Airport chief Weerawat Thadong said.

Weerawat said the 12pm flight cancellation was a safety precaution.

The noon cancellation resulted in some affected passengers being transported to the city in vans, while others postponed their travel plans.

Drought hits several islands off Ranong and parts of Trang

THE drought has hit the South, with more than 200 families on islands off Ranong facing water scarcity and two |districts in Trang not having enough water to produce tap-water.

Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department revealed that work has started on an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Mae Wong Dam. Opponents, however, say they have already presented a cheaper method of water management.

Government proposes new approach to fight haze

Chiang Mai: Thailand has proposed each country set its own measures to reduce air particle levels according to their own standards, arguing such "active" measures could then be included in the Asean Haze-Free Roadmap to control transboundary haze pollution.

The proposal came Monday as high-level Asean officials gathered in the northern province to attend the three-day First Taskforce Meeting to Draft the Roadmap on Asean Cooperation Towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation. Myanmar and Brunei were absent from the meeting.

Golden Land ramps up investment budget

SET­-listed developer Golden Land Property Development Plc (GOLD) has raised its annual land investment budget to 3 billion baht from the usual 1-2 billion after securing new funding in January.

According to Somboon Wasinchutchawal, senior executive vice-president for finance and accounting, new funds worth 4.97 billion baht were made available following a capital injection by a new shareholder, Singapore-­listed property firm Frasers Centrepoint Limited, through its subsidiary Frasers Property Holdings (Thailand) Co.

Academics warn against political agendas influencing environmentalism in Sasin case

ENVIRONMENTALISTS ARE being targeted by political attacks again with the public speculating about the political agenda behind their activism, while academics insist that environmental issues cannot be separated from politics and that activists should be careful about confusing political interests with their campaigns.

Shortly after the Irrigation Department suggested that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha reconsider the Mae Wong Dam project, waves of verbal attacks the hit the prominent environmentalist Sasin Chalermlarp, most heavily from the "red shirt" side of the political spectrum.