Krabi's economy will die if coal plant goes ahead

Krabi's economy will die if coal plant goes ahead
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

The upcoming bid to find a builder for the Krabi coal-fired power plant - before completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - is seriously wrong, the Protect Andaman from Coal Network has said.

The Electricity Generating Au thority of Thailand (EGAT) is due to call for bids for the Krabi coal plant on Wednesday.

Akradej Chakjinda and Prasitchai Nu-nuan, activists from the Protect Andaman from Coal Network, have staged a hunger strike since July 10 in front of the Tourism and Sports Ministry in protest at the controversial power plant construction plan.

"What we are trying to achieve here is to raise public awareness that the process to build an 800 megawatts coal-fired power plant in Krabi has been revealed in an ambiguous way. [We] ask the prime minister to stop the project that will destroy the people's way of life, local health, ecology and tourism in Krabi," Akradej said.

He said that the previous three public hearings into the project were passed without proper public participation, as locals who will face direct impact from the power plant had been ignored. The third hearing, last year, even had a military presence to guard against the local movement, he said.

A coal-fired power plant is planned to be built on the site of an original 340 megawatts fuel oil power plant in Krabi's Nua Klong district. The project has faced strong opposition since it was announced in a 2010 Power Development Plan (PDP). If it goes ahead, the plant would start generating power in 2019.

The network says it will launch a big rally on the same day of the Krabi coal-fired power plant bid, but the exact plan has not been revealed.

"We have tried all methods to protest the building of the coal-fired power plant but the government has never listened to us. So we have to stage a hunger strike as the final measure to show that the local people, the way of life and Andaman tourism will die if the Krabi coal-fired power plant is built," he explained.

He pointed out that the new power plant would bring disastrous effects not only locally - but tourism along the whole Andaman coast would |be hit hard for the benefit of coal |dealers and industrialists.

"We found that 87 per cent of tourists from 37 countries would not come back to Krabi if there was a coal-fired power plant. The core economy of the province would collapse as it relies mainly on tourism which makes up to Bt60 billion a year. Tourism along the Andaman shore, which brings in Bt300 billion (S$12 billion), will suffer as well," he said.

In reply to EGAT's claim that the South has no power stability, he said the claim was not true as the South had the ability to generate power from alternative clean sources.

"In Krabi alone, there are 26 biomass power plants from palm oil, which together can generate up to 2,000MW - equal to three coal-fired power plants," he said.

"If the government supports this alternative source of power, it will not have to build the expensive and |polluting coal-fired power plant but just promote local farmers who plant palm oil."

He concluded by asking whether the government was really trying to protect the public interest or protect industrial groups and coal dealers, while leaving local people to pay the price.

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