Locals dig in heels over Orange Line

Construction News

The banner is clear: Huai Khwang residents want the Orange Line rerouted, and vow to fight any attempt to lay down tracks they say will affect 1,000 families. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Residents of Soi Prachasongkhro 21 of Huai Khwang district who are affected by the planned construction of the Orange Line vowed Sunday to fight any order requiring them to leave their homes.

The residents gathered at the home of Prateep Nilwan, leader of the Mae Niew Yak 3 community, and said they would seek a court injunction to stop the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) railway project.

They were responding to a ruling last Wednesday by a committee on land traffic management that the original construction plan for the Orange Line should proceed, given that preliminary work had already been carried out.

The committee was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, who insisted the public had been made aware of the plans for more than a decade, and an environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been conducted. MR Pridiyathorn is also responsible for economic affairs.

MR Pridiyathorn also said earlier the subway line linking Talingchan and Min Buri should be built through the Prachasongkhro area as planned as it would cause minimal traffic disruption.

Construction has begun in non-residential areas between Min Buri and the Thailand Cultural Centre, he said, adding officials are currently looking for new homes for 184 homeowners whose residences will be expropriated for construction.

However, the residents insist that more than 1,000 families in the soi will be affected and that the MRTA must consider the alternative rail route they had proposed last year.

“We affirm our strong stance that we won’t move elsewhere,” Mr Prateep said. “We will stay here and fight for our legal right to live on our land.”

He told the Bangkok Post his community was one of seven in Soi Prachasongkhro 21 that will be affected by the railway project, and there are more than 1,000 families living in the soi.

In March 2010, the cabinet approved a mass railway construction project for seven lines, including the Orange Line from Taling Chan to Min Buri with a budget of 110.33 billion baht.

The 35.4-kilometre long line will stop at 29 stations including Taling Chan, Siriraj, Sanam Luang, Ratchaprarop, Din Daeng, Ramkhamhaeng, Nom Klao and Min Buri.

Last year, Soi Prachasongkhro 21 residents protested against the construction of Prachasongkhro station which would pass through their community, and in February this year the MRTA agreed to change the route to one proposed by the residents, and avoid building through their community.

This adjusted route was to pass through Ratchaprarop, Kheha Din Daeng, and Rama IX station.

Mr Prateep said he questioned the committee’s decision to go back to the original route. He said the MRTA was wrong to take 22 rai for land development without considering how much it would affect residents.

“We will lodge a complaint with the Administrative Court, seeking an injunction against the project immediately after the project gets the cabinet nod,” he said, adding his community was optimistic the court will rule in their favour.

The MRTA study claims 184 houses will be affected by the project, but the residents said the land had been turned into apartments, housing thousands.

Residents are also angry the MRTA will also need to build on land extending 100 metres from each side of the railway line for a new road.

Mr Prateep said the community would only permit the work if construction would take place at 30 metres below ground level, which would not affect homes and would not necessitate land expropriation.

However, Prakit Chan-urai, a 63 year-old resident, said he had learned the MRTA planned to construct the underground route at 20 metres below ground, which would require residents to leave their homes.

Nearby communities would also experience noise and dust pollution, Mr Prakit said.

“We have not opposed the development, but put up an alternative route. The MRTA is trying to say we are a naughty group opposing the project, which we are not,” he said.

“We want the best choice where all sides benefit and the community will not suffer.”

Communities have grown in Soi Prachasongkhro 21 over the last 80 years. The land was later developed by landowners for dense living. Residents said the government and the MRTA should visit the site and meet them so an appropriate decision could be made that would benefit all sides. They are unhappy about how the decision was reached and say their concerns should be taken into account.



Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/592017/locals-dig-in-heels-over-orange-line