Locals get firm
The Thailand government's ambitious plans of buying natural gas from Burma and transporting it home through pipelines have met with stiff opposition from the local residents and nature conservation groups. This is because the pipelines would pass through forests and the construction work would damage the forest cover to a great extent.
Conservation groups have declared that residents along the Thai-Burmese gas pipeline routes would seal off parts of the forests in Kanchanaburi if the Thailand government failed to come up with a clear decision within seven days to suspend the construction work in the forests. Members of the conservation groups earlier submitted a letter to Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai through the Prime Minister's Office minister, Supatra Masdit, on December 2, demanding that the pipeline be re-routed.
The groups issued a statement in this regard, after the pipeline route in Thong Pha Phum district was inspected. Campaign for Popular Democracy secretary general Phiphop Dhongchai said if the government failed to announce within seven days, the suspension of construction work through forests, villagers would seal off the forests at the Chet Mit Mine, Huay Pak Khok, and Rai Pa villages.
He further said that while awaiting the government's reply, the conservation groups and local residents will watch closely to make sure that the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (ptt) did not do any damage to the forests. The ptt signed contracts to buy natural gas from the Yadana and Yetagun fields in Burma's Andaman sea and is responsible for laying the 260-km long pipeline in Thailand.
The route starts from I-tong village and ends at a gas power plant of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand in Ratchaburi. The construction work began early this year after the National Environment Board approved the project's environment impact assessment.
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