The government's plan to build walkways along the Chao Phraya River is being threatened by a group of environmental activists who plan to take their fight to the courts.
The Stop Global Warming Association has launched its campaign against the Bt14-billion (S$551 million) Chao Phraya Riverside Walkway project.
It said the project did not undergo a proper impact assessment and a public hearing process.
Srisuwan Janya, the association's president, said in a statement released yesterday that the project would deeply affect riverside communities' way of life as well as businesses and historic sites along the river.
"This is a gigantic project, which will surely result in wide and imminent consequences on the communities. Such a huge project requires careful impact assessment and transparent public hearing but this project has already been accepted by the Cabinet without following these procedures," Srisuwan said.
The project was approved by the Cabinet this month. According to the plan, the walkway - 19.5 metres wide with a height of 2.8 metres on both sides of the river - will run along a seven-kilometre strip from Rama VII Bridge to Phra Pinklao Bridge. Bicycle lanes and a waterside promenade will also be built.
"Our group will hand over the [protest] letter to the prime minister tomorrow [today] to express our disagreement and ask the government to halt the project until the impact study and public hearings are done," he said.
"If the government ignores our movement and goes ahead with the project, we will sue the government via the Administrative Court," he added.
Parinya Charuenbandit, a Seoul National University doctoral-degree student in city planning, said he doubted the government was spending so much money on a low-tech project just to make a profit from surplus money.
Team Group director Chawalit Chantararat, a water management expert, remarked that the project would reduce flood risk, as it would allow easier flow of water unlike at present with the houses encroaching on the river.
Taiwut Khankaew, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Building Control Division director, said the BMA had held four public hearings on the project.
"At the last public hearing, 200 people from five communities understood and accepted the project. They were willing to receive compensation from the government," Taiwut said.