By Prachatai English
Bangkok, Thailand, March 9, 2016
The Thai junta enacted a new order to cut short the process to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment on mega project constructions.
On Tuesday, 8 March 2016, the public website of the Royal Gazette published the latest order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Order 9/2016.
The title of the NCPO’s Order 9/2016 reads ‘Additional Laws on Promotion and Protection of the Quality of Nation’s Environment’
The order was authorised on Monday by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, who invoked authorities under Section 44 of the Interim Constitution which gives the regime absolute power, to enact it with immediate effect.
In the order, the authorities reasons that it is crucial for speeding up the process in which public projects could be proceed for social and economic reform.
The order amends parts of Article 47 of the 1992 Promotion and Protection of the Quality of Nation’s Environment Act.
In brief, the new order makes it possible for state agencies to propose to the cabinet in order to proceed with the process to find private subcontractors on state projects related to transportation, water management, public health, and prevention of public dangers before the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is completed.
Surachai Throngngam, Secretary General of EnLawThai Foundation, concluded that, with the order, state agencies is able to rush process to open public auctions to find subcontractors on mega state projects despite the outcome of the EIA.
He, however, pointed out that, under the order, the subcontractors cannot sign official agreements with state agencies to proceed with state projects prior to the completion of the EIA.
Surachai told Prachatai that the amendment of the environmental protection act with the NCPO’s Order 9/2016 is significantly related to the 2013 Private and Public Partnership Act because it speeds up the process to forge such partnerships on state projects.
In mid 2015, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the junta’s chief economic advisor, said that the cabinet has approved a plan to cut short the process of conducting EIA on PPP (Public and Private Partnership) mega projects.
The proposal is aimed to reduce the time for conducting EIAs for mega infrastructure projects from about 22 months currently to only nine months.
Somkid said that the plan will increase the speed and efficiency of the process of giving public concessions to private companies.
He added that under the current system the EIA process has to be completed before contracts can be given to private companies, but under the new proposal both steps can proceed at the same time with the participation of all relevant public agencies.
Image: Seven Thai environmental organizations filed law suit against the government for slashing EIA process
Photo by: pwktranslation.com