A draft environmental law being considered by the NLA is being pushed for approval on 19 January 2018. Community members, scholars, and activists have criticized the bill for failing to resolve environmental problems and for an EIA process that cannot be trusted. They add that the environmental protection law is an investment promotion law in disguise.
A grassroot network last week blasted the government’s environmental bill, saying that it is aimed at helping investors rush through the environmental impact assessment process at the cost of the environment. They also vowed to propose a people’s version of the law. The People’s Network for Sustainable Development on 7 December 2017 gathered in front of the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC) near Government House to protest against the Enhancement and Conservation of the National Environmental Quality Bill.
15 of the southern environmental activists protesting against the controversial coal-fired power plant in Songkhla have spent the night behind bars as they failed to obtain 1.35 million baht bond for bail request. On 28 November 2017, the court granted to the police the custody permission to detain 15 key leaders of of the network from Songkhla and Pattani provinces protesting against the planned coal-fired power plant and deep sea port in Songkhla, according to Khaosod.
People in Songkhla and Pattani have rallied against plans for a coal-fired power plant and deep sea port ahead of a cabinet meeting. On 26 November 2017, a network from Songkhla and Pattani provinces protesting against a planned coal-fired power plant held a rally in Songkhla ahead of the coming cabinet meeting in the province on 28 November. The group plans to submit a petition to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, asking the government to cancel plans for a 2,200-megawatt power plant and deep sea port in Thepha District, Songkhla.
Various civil society workers have vowed not to legitimise the military government by cooperating with it, saying the junta’s national strategic plan favours only investors. On 20 November 2017, 72 civil society development workers issued a joint statement vowing not to legitimise the military government by taking part in any mechanisms of the regime.
The proposal to collect water fees from rice farmers is the first step towards the commodification of water resources, which will accelerate the collapse of small-scale farmers who are already struggling to make ends meet.
An environmentalist group has filed a lawsuit urging the government to oppose the construction of yet another dam on the Mekong in Lao PDR, saying local participation must be more than window dressing. On 8 June 2017, an environmental conservation group called Khon Rak Chiang Kong filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court against the Thai National Mekong Committee Secretariat, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Department’s Director-General. The group asked the court to order both organisations to oppose
A Thai mining company operating in Myanmar has filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against a Thai journalist for reporting alleged environmental damage. On 14 May 2017, Reporters Without Borders, journalists, and civil society groups from Thailand and Myanmar issued a joint statement to support Pratch Rujivanarom, a Nation Multimedia Group journalist. The group demands that Myanmar Pongpipat Co Ltd (MPC), a Thai mining company operating in Myanmar, withdraw lawsuits filed against Pratch and The Nation.
The military has summoned the leader of an environmental group opposing China’s exploration of the Mekong River for the purposes of developing a commercial shipping route. On 25 April 2017, Col Jarat Panyadi, Deputy Commander of the 37 Military Circle of Chiang Rai, summoned Niwat Roikaew, the leader of an a local environmental conservation group called ‘Khon Rak Chiang Kong’, for a “chat” at a coffee shop.
The military has forced villagers in Sa Kaeo to cancel a protest against plans to construct a factory to separate industrial and toxic wastes, saying only protests about dengue fever or illicit drugs would be allowed. On 21 March 2017, soldiers intervened in a meeting of a group of teachers and village headmen of Khlong Thap Chan Subdistrict of Aranyaprathet District in Sa Kaeo Province.