Dowload Statement of "Stop Patronizing Dawei Project"

Monday, August 27, 2012

Academics call for Dawei port plan rethink

ITD project seen causing health, environment hit


Civil society and academics have called on the government and contractor Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) to review the Dawei deep-sea port plan and listen to the views of residents who stand to be affected.
While the development is in Myanmar, Thais will also be affected by proposed highways to be built to link Dawei to Thailand by road.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is to lead her economic ministers on a visit to Myanmar on Sept 19-21 to follow up on progress in Dawei since leaders of the two countries agreed last month in Bangkok to clear any obstacles to the multi-billion-baht project.
Pojanee Artarotpinyo, director of the National Economic and Social Development Board's spatial development planning and strategy office, said the Council of State has yet to complete a draft bill on a special economic zone in Kanchanaburi to accommodate the development of the Dawei project.
Ms Pojanee added that the Finance Ministry is looking at ways to help ease the financial burden ITD faces with the massive venture.
"Since the Thai government has already pledged strong support for the project, all agencies are now coordinating closely with their Myanmar counterparts to finalise the project," Ms Pojanee said.
Speaking at a recent seminar titled "Thai-Myanmar Relations: From Map Ta Phut to Dawei", organised by Mahidol University's faculty of environment and resource studies, she said issues the two governments have continued to negotiate include the project's specific location, features or characteristics and financing models.
She said the Dawei project should consider lessons learned from Thailand's Eastern Seaboard industrial area development, including those relating to environmental and health problems.
Somsak Boonpratanporn, head of the Highways Department's assessment working group for Dawei, said the department has two Dawei-related highway projects to develop.
The first is the 98km Bang Yai (Nonthaburi)-Nakhon Pathom-Kanchanaburi highway that will help connect Dawei to the GMS Southern Corridor, which runs from the western border of Thailand to the eastern coast of Vietnam.
The highway will cost 45.88 billion baht, of which 4.85 billion baht is set aside for land expropriation.
This motorway could link to another 70km highway, which is currently undergoing a feasibility study, from Kanchanaburi to Ban Phu Nam Ron, the border village in Ratchaburi province, to connect with the 160km Dawei-Ban Phu Nam Ron highway being developed by ITD.
Veerawat Dheeraprasart, chairman of the Foundation for Ecological Recovery, said post-Dawei development problems would be 10 times more serious than those seen in the Map Ta Phut industrial area and Laem Chabang deep-sea port.
He added that the lack of efficient environmental and health regulation enforcement in Myanmar put the communities around Dawei at risk of being compromised in the name of foreign investment.
"The ITD-developed project has yet to take into account core principles mentioned in the Asean Charter, including respect for human rights, cultural identity and diversity and sustainable development and environmental conservation goals," Mr Veerawat said.
He also called for the Highways Department to conduct a new environmental impact assessment on the planned motorways.
He urged both the Thai and Myanmar governments to review the project to show that the two Asean members are concerned not only with the economic benefits but also want to look after the socio-cultural front.
Khanat Kruthkul, a doctor at Ramathibodi Hospital, said there should be a serious study into the potential health and social impacts of freer cross-border movement, industrialisation and environmental depletion.
The consumerism that inevitably emerges from industrialisation would change local people's way of life, Dr Khanat said.
People could grow fatter as they become more wealthy, he said, while communicable diseases and parasites would become more resistant to medication.
Suphakit Nuntavorakarn, a researcher from the Healthy Public Policy Foundation, said Thai civil society organisations do not oppose development. They merely want to see the promotion of industries that best match the environmental and cultural characteristics of the Dawei region as well as Kanchanaburi, he said.
"Myanmar's greenhouse gas emissions will increase by five times after the Dawei project is complete," Mr Suphakit said.
He said water consumption would be greater at 5.9 million cubic metres a day, with more waste water, industrial waste and household and industrial garbage.
"Therefore, the investing company needs to look at the overall picture as there will be an enormous impact on the people and the environment on both sides of the border," he said.



Thai Environmentalists Expresses Concerns On Dawei Project

In the seminar on 24th August of Friday in Thailand’s Mahidol University, ‘the relationships between Thailand and Myanmar – From Ma Ta Put to Dawei (Tavoy in Burmese)’, three Bangkok based civil society organizations, working on environment and health issues expressed their grave concerns on environmental and health impacts from Dawei deep seaport and industrial estate development project to Thai people near Thailand-Burma border and Burma’s ethnic fishing and farming communities.
A planned Bangkok-Dawei motor in map
A half-day seminar was arranged by academics from Environment and Resources Studies department of Mahidol University (Salaya Campus) and three civil society organizations, Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailnd, Healthy Public Policy – Thailand, and Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA).
Chairman of TERRA, Mr.. Virawat Thiraprasat, said in the panel discussion, “the local people have a very simple economy, fishing and farming. Why we should not promote these economies, and why Thai investors put heavy industries like steel factories, petrochemical industries, which are never benefiting to the local people”.
He and other panelists on the environment have pointed out that the Thai investors have chosen the Dawei Project to avoid strong local opposition to expansion of industry zone, especially petrochemical industries zone, in the South and in Map Ta Phut, southeast of Thailand.
However, a Thai authority from National Economic and Social Planning Department, Mrs. Potjanee Untarokuenyar confirmed in the panel session that ‘Thai investors especially Italia-Thai Development (ITD) Company will continuously invest billions of dollars in Dawei project for the benefits of both Thai and Burmese (Myanmar) people’.
She also said that the Thai government will support the ITD as a Thai investor, which received a great contract from Myanmar government as a main developer in Burma. He also added Thai and Burmese government agreed to set up ‘temporary border point’ at Puu Nam Ron, from which ITD has been building a road to Dawei deep seaport and industry zone.
But the environmentalists have expressed that the dam construction and dirty petrochemical zones will seriously impacts the livelihood of the local people, wildlife, forests and water resources in the area. They said that the Burmese people have no strong environment laws to protect their resources and health, and the investors may take advantages to invest dirty and heavy industries in the country like Burma.
A road by ITD in Dawei Project site
A road by ITD in Dawei Project site
Kanchanaburi and Nonthaburi district residents in central and western part of Thailand, also questioned the impacts of motorways from Bang Yai, near Bangkok, which pass through Kanchanaburi Province, reached to Puu Nam Ron border point. The resident worried for their communities because their properties on the route of motorways will be taken with compensation costs, but they have more concerns on the transports of toxic materials by trucks passing near their houses. They also said that there will be a serious pollution on these roads.
Thai government’s Transport Department plans to build a 170 kilometers long motorway from Bangkok to the border with Burma, and then ITD is building 160 kilometers long road from the border to Dawei project site.
The Thai government and Burmese government led by President U Thein Sein re-affirmed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) when the Burmese president paid for a 3-days visit in the 3rd week of July to Bangkok. He was also shown the Laem Chabang Port and Laem Chabang Industrial Estate in eastern Chon Buri by Thai authorities to inspire him into extending full political support to the Thai-invested Dawei project in Myanmar’s southern town of Dawei.

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