Ghost town ‘forgotten’ in Chiang Khong border trade

The freshly painted welcome signs at Chiang Khong market are conspicuous, greeting visitors as they cross the border from Laos. Few arrive however, and behind the signs they see only shuttered shops and scattered clothing sellers.

The “new town”, as some business operators called it after the opening of the fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River in 2013, is now known as a ghost town by locals.
Once a bustling trade development area, the market located just a kilometre from the bridge, has been a flop and doesn’t seem to be able to attract tourists.

But there is a chance the market could be resurrected, after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government announced Chiang Rai would be the location for the second phase of the Special Economic Zones, set to be launched this year.

Villagers fight waiver of EIA for power plants

REPRESENTATIVES of people from seven provinces yesterday filed a complaint with the Central Administrative Court in Bangkok calling on the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to revoke its announcement waiving environment impact assessments (EIA) for waste-fired power plants.

Mekong: a river rising

The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. With world leaders meeting in Paris next week for crucial UN climate talks, John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway – a place that encapsulates some of the dilemmas they must solve. He meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities

Heated Mae Sot SEZ 97 households are convicted

Lands have been expropriated and Mae Sot villagers, who worry about having industrial estates in the area instead. They protested against the issuing of ‘land deeds’ for originally reserved forest. If the state succeeds then local communities could be arrested as invaders, said a conservation group of Mae sot residents. The expropriated areas include 803 rai of national reserved forest, 2,182 rai of permanent forest area, and 13 rai of public space. The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand was assigned to manage 803 rai and the Treasury Department manages 1,287 rai.

China, Laos to build $6.3 bln railway project by 2020 – China Economic Herald

China aims to complete laying a 418-kilometre (260-mile) railway from a border town to Laos by 2020, the official China Economic Herald reported, as the economic giant seeks a new route into the emerging markets of Southeast Asia.

The two countries agreed on Friday to jointly build a 40-billion yuan ($6.28 billion) railway from the border town of Boten to the Laos capital Vientiane, the Herald reported.

The deal was announced at a signing ceremony attended by senior officials from the National Development & Reform Commission the country’s top economic planner, China Railway Corporation and the Export-Import Bank of China, the paper said.

Laos, poor and landlocked, has traditionally been firmly in the orbit of its larger neighbour to the east, Vietnam.

But China has been aggressively courting Laos as it sees the communist-ruled country as an important route into Southeast Asia, and its ports on the Mekong River for landlocked parts of southwestern China such as Yunnan.

Thai power producer RATCH to invest $1b in overseas plants in Indonesia, Laos, China

Thailand’s listed power producer Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL (RATCH) plans to invest around $1 billion in power plants in Indonesia, Laos and China, a top official with the company said.

The company expects its aggressive investment to double its electricity production capacity to 8,000 megawatts, increasing its enterprise value from the current level of 124 billion baht to 188 billion baht by 2018.

Rum Herabat, the newly-appointed chief executive officer, said the company is looking at three main approaches to increase business. These include – exploring new investments, managing efficiency of main power plants and completing construction of new power plants as planned.

The potential projects, for which the company is conducting feasibility studies and negotiation include, 2,000-MW JAWA7 in Indonesia, 400-MW Sekong 4 hydropower project in Lao PDR, seven solar farms projects for the public sector in Thailand (with a combined capacity of 35 MW) and 2,000-MW power plant project in China.

IEAT aims to establish industrial estates in SEZs –Bangkok Biz (Thai language)

The governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Mr. Verapong Chaiperm mentioned that currently, Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) is accelerating the study design on the establishment of industrial estates in the special economic zones in Sa kaeo and Mae Sot, Tak provinces in according to the policies of Mr. Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy prime minister who has been delegated during the recent Policy Committee on Special Economic Zone Development. They are expecting to finish the study within the six months period before the implementation of the next investment phrase. This is a part of the pilot project that will also engage private sectors to invest in this respective area. For investment of enterprises which are required to comply with IEAT’s rules and regulations involved many steps for example, the study on EIA and is subjected to PM’s consideration if any special laws can be applied to shorten the process in order to speed up the investment and to meet the required timeframe.

Isan activists accuse Thai junta of siding with gas corporation

An environmental conservation group in Isan, Thailand’s Northeast, says that the Thai junta are siding with an oil and gas corporation to plunder resources and urges the US government to take action against the multinational petroleum company.

Na Mun-Dun Sat Conservation Group, an Isan environmental group, on Tuesday morning, 12 October 2015, rallied in front of the US Embassy in Bangkok and submitted a letter to embassy staff, urging the US government to hold Apico (Khorat) Limited, a US-based oil and gas exploration company, accountable.

New tests for residents near big gold mine

A FRESH round of blood/urine tests is now being processed through the initiative of five organisations, including the Industry Ministry, to assess a gold mine’s impacts on the health of people living in Phichit, Phetchabun and Phitsanulok provinces.

The tests, which started with a blood-sample collection on Saturday, are the sixth round since locals became concerned about the operation of the Chatree Mining Complex. Many residents have complained about deteriorating health.

Minister says Dawei SEZ ‘like renovating some parts of an old house in order to prevent it from collapsing’

The Dawei Special Economic Zone has been championed by both the Myanmar and Thai governments as a promising industrial development for Myanmar, yet there have been difficulties getting the project off the ground.

According to the agreement, the initial phase of the project must be carried out on the 7-square-kilometre land allotted for the special zone, and 65 percent of construction must be completed within three years from the signing date. In the meantime, Italian-Thai Development has been building infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water supplies and buildings.