Rayong residents complaint asks investment freeze

local residents living near the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in the eastern province of Rayong

A group of 43 local residents living near the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in the eastern province of province filed a complaint with the Administrative Court to seek an emergency hearing and an injunction to put on hold all projects or activities at the country’s major industrial estate zone.

The residents complaint was directed against the eight-member National Environment Board and agencies concerned.

They called for revocation of Tuesday’s Cabinet resolution allowing the licensing of factories undergoing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.

The local residents claimed that the approval was not in accord with Article 67 of Thailand’s Constitution and that it will benefit investors doing business in the pollution control zone, 250km southeast of Bangkok.

The law requires an assessment of the health impact and hearing the opinions of Rayong stakeholders before the Cabinet licenses investment projects.

Moreover, the environmental impact of any project must be evaluated by an independent environmental body, but the cabinet resolution approved licenses based only on the EIA, the local residents said.

If it proceeds, the Cabinet resolution will affect local residents and the environment, they claimed.

Suthi Atchasai, one of the local complainants on Thursday said if their action to seek the court’s injunction is rejected, the Eastern Civil Network will hold a mass gathering at the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate on September 9.

Rayong residents say they don’t want to hinder investment in the province but that any industrial investment should be in line with the Constitution, he explained.

Mr Suthi warned that his group may blockade the port and the industrial estate complex to voice their concern that the pollution problem in the province has yet been solved and it can become a long-standing problem.

He later said the court deferred urgent deliberation on the petition, saying the complainants submitted incomplete information regarding the 76 projects approved by the National Environment Board. In addition, the court also wanted to have the National Environment Board to testify regarding the petition.