Opponents of the Chana (Jana) industrial estate project staged a protest on Saturday morning, in front of Chana Wittaya School in Chana district of Thailand’s southern province of Songkhla, where a public hearing on the controversial project was being held by the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC).
The so-called “Chana Rakthin” group, comprised mostly of residents of Chana district, arrived at in a convoy of 15 cars, but they were not permitted to join the hearing, which was limited to residents of tambons Na Tab, Sakom and Taling Chan.
The protesters later went to Chana intersection, about six kilometres away, to stage a symbolic protest, which will transform the sleepy rural district into an industrial zone, complete with power plants, seaports and industries.
A leader of the group, Ms. Caireeya Ramanya, read out a prepared statement criticizing the public hearing for not permitting the full participation of all stakeholders.
The statement alleges that the project has been suspicious from the beginning, because it was approved by the Cabinet before public hearings were held or an environment impact assessment study (EIA), which is yet to be carried out.
The hearing, according to the statement, was intended to justify the project. It urged the people of Songkhla province to join their cause in opposing it.
Otherwise, the public hearing was not disrupted.
SBPAC officials said that they would summarise opinions voiced at the hearing, and those of others, within a month, before proceeding to conduct an EIA study.
About 1,000 police and volunteers, from seven southern provinces, were deployed to ensure peace and order for the hearing.
In May last year, the Cabinet approved an 18 billion baht budget for infrastructure at the site of the industrial estate, covering 2,560 hectares, to be implemented by TPI.