Many residents of Krabi, a popular tourism province in southern Thailand, are opposing the government’s plan to build a coal plant close to their homes.
The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), an electric power transmission and generation authority owned by the Thai Ministry of Energy, proposed in early 2014 to build a coal-fired power plant with a capacity of 870 megawatts in Krabi and the construction of a coal seaport in nearby Nuea Khlong.
The construction is part of the government’s Power Development Plan 2010 to boost the country’s power supply. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has warned that Thai citizens might have to bear higher electricity costs if the plan is not realized.
Krabi residents have expressed concern about the possible detrimental impact of the plant to the local environment. They pointed out that the shipment of a large amount of coal and the construction of a massive port could harm the coastal area of Krabi, which is a protected biodiversity site.
Residents are also worried that the coal plant could also harm the health of the local population. Groups opposed to the project have claimed that the public hearing conducted by the project’s backers covered only a small number of people, and one villager said that the community was not properly consulted about the project.
“We did not know that there was even a public hearing though the power plant was to be constructed behind my backyard,” he said. “For the second public hearing, they just cancelled the event when more and more people came. During the third public hearing, there were as many as 500 police officers there [and] the event was postponed.”
According to the regulations of Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, any power plant project slated for more than 100 megawatts of capacity must first be subjected to an Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) before it is granted a government license. The EHIA has not yet been issued.
Last August 5, a letter was signed by 42 organizations and 52 individuals asking the government to scrap the project. They told authorities that the region’s energy security was stable and even registered a surplus in power supply.
A version of this article was originally published on Global Voices Online as ‘Why Does the Thai Government Want to Destroy Krabi with Coal Power Plant?’