PA KHLOK: The Fishermen’s Association in Moo 6, Pa Khlok, which staged a protest at Provincial Hall and lodged a formal complaint over the construction of the Ao Por Marina on March 16, has applied for advice from the Human Rights Commission as to what rights it has in defending its members’ livelihoods.
Rattanaporn Jaengjaidee, an adviser to the association, told the Gazette, “We have sent a letter to the Office of the National Human Rights Commission to ask them if any rights of any Ao Por villagers are being violated by this project. We are waiting for a reply from them.”
The announcement came after the villagers boycotted an inspection of the area by Phuket’s Chief Administrative Assistant (Palad) Nivit Aroonrat, on March 21.
“We didn’t want to go because we’ve inspected the area twice already. The first time was on February 8 with the PMBC [Phuket Marine Biological Office] and the Environmental Office, Region 15, [to assess the marina’s initial impact on the area’s environment].
“The second time was on February 23 with the PMBC and the Chief of the Phuket Marine Office,” she said.
“The PMBC filed a report stating that there was a lot of coral there before, but that it is has been destroyed by the construction. The province should reconsider the decision [to allow construction], but it seems that they don’t care about what the report said.”
K. Rattanaporn said that villagers felt they already knew what the conclusion from the inspection would be. “Villagers believe the province is not sincere in helping them, otherwise K. Nivit would have come to check when the Fishermen’s Association lodged its complaint at the beginning of February,” she said.
However, Moosa Ngan-khaeng, assistant to the Phu Yai Baan (village headman) for Moo 6, said, “I warned reporters and any other people affected by this to stop protesting, as I’m the person responsible for this area.
“They are not being reasonable, and it’s strange that they lodge a protest and then don’t turn up when we come to check. They come, instead, when the company is working, checking every four to five days, and now the company is worried about continuing working under these conditions.”
During his inspection, K. Nivit said that because no villagers had turned up to inspect the area, he would now support the decision to allow construction of the 95-million-baht project by Italian Thai Development Co to continue.
“I came here to see with my own eyes whether there is still coral in the construction area or not, because when the protesters gave me a letter of complaint they also complained that I didn’t come to check for myself.
“Now that I see nobody here, I will uphold the decision that the construction of the marina can continue without any problems,” K. Nivit said.
K. Nivit said there was no reason for divers to go into the water and check whether any coral within the construction zone was still alive. “There is no need to check. I already have been told by the Chief of the Marine Office that there is no healthy coral in the area,” he said.
Nalinee Thongthaem of the PMBC said that the report compiled by the center before the project started explained that about 5% of the area had coral but that very little of it was still alive. However, she added, “What coral was still alive has been dug out.”
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