After the floods of 2011, Sasin Chalermlarp, 48, the secretary general of Sueb Nakasatien Foundation, has stood to oppose a range of environmental issues, from the PhuKradueng cable car to the governmental greenlight for mega projects to dodge city planning laws and environmental studies. To coincide with Earth Day on Apr 22, BK chats with him about the state of Thailand’s natural resources and environment.
Why do you think a cable car is a bad idea for PhuKradueng?
PhuKradueng is Thailand’s best trekking tail. The cable car project was actually initiated by Loei’sDesignated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA), which wants to boost local tourism number, but they didn’t consult the national park department which owns the area. Note that PhuKraduengia a “first class watershed type A” national park [which must be strictly preserved as a water source]. DASTA’s study didn’t include any environmental consequences of such large numbers of tourists going up to PhuKradueng’s plateau. It’s a pity to see the park lose its uniqueness. For me, there are many more suitable places that would benefit from a cable car, like PhuLuang and PhuRua.
How do you feel about the government’s decision to use Section 44 to circumvent environmental legislation?
I think the junta have failed us in many ways. We hoped they would enact reforms but, in my view, reform should be about fixing illegal problems, not trying to make shortcuts. If contractors invest money into building the project prior to an EIA [environmental impact assessment], I’m afraid that it will create more conflict between them and locals. Contractors have the money and the power to through-don’t even mention big project like dams. There will be tremendous problems if it goes ahead without an EIA study. I think the junta still governs in an old-fashioned style where development comes at the cost of people. They want to show that they can achieve everything quickly in order to please people, but they don’t need to do that since they didn’t get voted in by anybody. They came to fix the conflicts in Thai politics; and I still hope they will eventually achieve that.
How bad do you think thing are for Thailand, environmentally?
We’re really at a turning point between good and bad. I don’t think the government has a shares space that allows thinkers to help them reform this country. Environmental concerns are crucial to Thailand’s development. All governments think the same about how to make the economy grow with quick solution-boosting tourism, bringing in foreign investors. We should fix the economy by developing sustainable natural resources. Why do we need to develop a country with the environmental concerns instead of developing environment with economic concerns? Why do we need to trade our good soil, good water and good sea when we can have both [development and natural resources]? We just need to change direction and develop with a green strategy.
Do you think the drought situation is being handled appropriately?
We might survive until June or at least August if there are rains as usual. I must give credit to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives for their work communicating with farmers to not grow a second crop out of season. But it seem the government needs to do more to educate urbanites about water usage. Eventually, I’m sure that the drought problem will be more severs. We should plan more water reserves around Bangkok and the suburbs because there is more rain here. Urbanites should stock water in large water jars, like people in the old days.
Interview by MonruedeeJansuttipan
ที่มา BK Magazine No 636 Friday april 22, 2016