On the 6th day of a protest in front of Government House, a cabinet resolution has delayed a city zoning meeting, a process required for the proposed industrial project in Chana District, Songkhla Province, and established a committee to solve the problem of constructing the industrial zone over 16,000 rai.
The protesters from Chana under the banner reads "STOP Chana Industrial Estate".
On 15 December, Thammanat Prompao, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, announced that the committee will consist of both those in favour and those against the project. Membership of the committee will be considered later and fieldwork may be carried out at the beginning of 2021.
He admitted that this is not a suspension or delay of the industrial project. However, the decision does delay the city zoning, which results in a delay of other parts of the project.
The villagers’ representative said that they will give the government some time to work but vowed to come back if the resolution is not realized. They also want the media to investigate local politicians who benefit from the project and who may pressure Thammanat for coming out to help the villagers.
The government arranged buses along with food and drinks for the villagers’ journey home.
On the same day, at the Government Complaints Centre, another group of the villagers from Songkhla submitted a petition via Suporn Atthawong, Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, to demand that the project proceed.
They stated that the project will alleviate the locals' livelihood and quality of life. They also questioned the way the government listens to a minority who are against the project, which the group believes was being instigated by outside NGOs.
The group wants the Chana Rak Thin group, who had come to protest against the project, to return to the public hearings which they have rejected in the past. They also want the government to prevent the industrial project from being politicized. If the government ignores these demands, they are ready to mobilize over 10,000 people to protest at Government House.
The Chana industrial project was approved by a cabinet resolution at the last cabinet meeting of the junta government which was installed after the coup in 2014. According to the Bangkok Post, the project aims to construct an 18-billion-baht industrial estate on 16,700 rai of land. The area covered 3 sub districts with 1,500 residents.
The project is controversial because of questions about the public hearing process where those who opposed the project out of many concerns, including its impact on livelihoods, homes and the environment, were barred from attending hearings.
Previously, the group that is against the project have 2 demands:
- The Chana industrial city prototype project must be cancelled, along with related activities like changes to city zoning and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), as it is an illegitimate legacy of the previous junta government.
- After cancellation, the government must conduct a proper Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to establish quality academic data for decisions about further development projects in the south.