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NEWS UPDATES 27 July 2010

Thai ministry to follow-up on EIAs

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The Thai Industry Ministry is imposing stricter measures on factories nationwide to follow procedures related to environmental impact assessments, says minister Chaiwuti Bannawat.

"Previously, there had been problems as business operators had operating permits even though they were not conducting environmental impact assessments (EIAs). This poses a risk to the environment and results in opposition from communities," Mr. Chaiwuti told the Bangkok Post. He said any government officials who overlook the issue risk being transferred. The minister has emphasised strict law enforcement regarding factories since coming into office two months ago. He said he asked permanent secretary Witoon Simachokedee to impose stricter measures for following up on business operators to ensure they are proceeding with EIAs. "Industrial offices in each province should also follow up on businesses that have conducted EIAs before granting operating permits in order to help tackle environmental problems before they worsen and increase community awareness," said Mr Chaiwuti.

He said the law should be strictly enforced, making it fair, transparent and continuous. "Enforcement should not be limited to the period of permit application or focus on finding faults with business operators," he said.

"Instead, officials should focus on giving advice to business operators so they can proceed according to the procedures under the law."

Industrial offices in each province, provincial chambers of commerce and communities themselves should play a role in encouraging the enforcement of the law.

The ministry also has plans to create sustainable industries, where industrial development is considered from economic, social and environmental angles, Mr Chaiwuti added. Both existing and new industrial plants should not have undesirable effects on communities and society, he said.

The ministry will also move forward with the idea of setting up eco-towns in order to create more acceptance between communities and industries.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) is currently drafting a plan on eco-towns. "In previous times, setting up industrial estates or plants was not that difficult. But now every industry needs to find a way to coexist with communities," said Mr. Chaiwuti.

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