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PM Prayut pauses hotly-debated Krabi power plant project

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PM Prayut pauses hotly-debated Krabi power plant project | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the hotly-debated coal-fired power plant project in Krabi to be put on hold until a joint committee can ensure that all steps of the pre-construction process have been legally carried out.

The prime minister’s order ended a 14-day protest yesterday in Bangkok.

About 100 Krabi residents and environmental activists had gathered to demand a reply from the prime minister over their call to postpone the project’s bidding, The Nation reported.

Anti-coal activist Prasitchai Noonual told The Nation that the protesters were pleased with the government’s decision to set up a joint committee to discuss, study and improve the plan to build the 800MW coal-fired power plant in Krabi.

Krabi Provincial Administration Organization Vice President Kittichai Angchuan told the Phuket Gazette today that he is also impressed by the prime minister’s move, which will allow local residents to be more involved in the project.

“Our two weeks of protesting ended when PM Prayut put the project on hold. It will be on hold until it is clear that the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] report has passed through every step of the legal process,” said Mr Kittichai.

“We are happy with the result of our actions. The project is on hold and we are now a part of the project’s standing committee. I’m glad PM Prayut listened to us.”

Mr Kittichai said that the 100-person-strong protest started in front of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports before moving in front of the Government House.

“Krabi residents Prasittichai Noonual and Akkaradet Chakjinda even fasted in Bangkok for the entire 14 days. They were calling on government to look deeper into the plan for the power plant,” Mr Kittichai added.

“We do not think Krabi needs this power plant. We can produce enough power to support the southern provinces without it.”

Mr Kittichai said that a date had yet to be set to discuss the project further.

“We will keep an eye on all parties involved to make sure that no one breaks this agreement,” he added.

The coal-fired power plant proposed for Krabi’s Nua Klong district has drawn much resistance from locals and environmental activists over the years.

In March 2014, Greenpeace staged a dramatic protest against the proposed plant by hanging from the cliffs of Railay Bay in Krabi (story here).

In September 2014, Mr Kittichai noted that the construction of the plant would damage Krabi’s wetlands, which are protected under the Ramsar Convention, The Nation reported (story here).

Not long after that, the Koh Lanta Tourism Association lashed out against the project, claiming that the initiating authority had been dishonest with locals (story here).

Another protest took place in October 2014, bringing hundreds of residents together at a public hearing for the project. The protesters claimed that the meetings were setups and locals were not being heard (story here).

One month later, local fishermen in Krabi joined the fight.

A horde of boats carrying angry villagers congregated at the Baan Klong Ruo pier in Nua Khlong in November 2014, wielding large signs that read: “Protect Krabi from coal-power plant” and waving green flags picturing dugong calling for “No coal” (story here).

However, in December of last year, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) ramped up its push for the plant (story here).

Then, as recently as March this year, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report on the plant project was rejected amid pressure from the Protect Krabi Network (story here).

— Chutharat Plerin

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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