By Atiya Achakulwisut
Bangkok, Thailand, March 15, 2016
The military regime’s order No.9/2559 allowing certain infrastructure and development projects to be opened for bidding before an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study is carried out is illogical.
What is worse is the ruling military probably knows how hollow its rationale is, and they don’t care.
Government figures and top state officials have rushed out to defend the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) command allowing state agencies or enterprises to start engaging the private sector to undertake large-scale projects before the result of the EIA is known. The order covers such projects as those involving irrigation, transport, disaster prevention and housing.
Environmentalists and academics slammed the order, issued under the unchecked power of Section 44 of the interim charter, when it was made public last week. They argued the order is an attempt to bypass the EIA or environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) process which is mandatory for all state-owned schemes.
In the rush to get large-scale projects off the ground, which might benefit the country’s short-term economic growth, the military regime is denying people’s rights to protect their natural resources and livelihoods, they argued. The critics have a point. Why else would the law mandating an EIA and EHIA be in place if the process is dispensable? As the outcry grows louder, the government and its supporters in state agencies have formed a defence line. Is it a sensible explanation? Definitely not. The chain of logic behind the NCPO’s order No.9 is flawed completely, from start to finish.
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