Civic groups and villagers oppose the use of wetland for special economic zone project

Villagers and civic groups in Chiang Rai’s Chiang Khong district have raised objection of the provincial administration’s plan to allocate 3,000 rai of public wetland for development to support the special economic zone project in this northern province.

The wetland in Tambon Boonruang, Chiang Khong district, have been serving as a public grazing ground for cattle of the villagers in the tambon for many decades.

Under the special economic zone plan, the 3,000 rai wetland will be divided into two parts : one part about 1,800 rai are for industrial development and another part, 1,200 rai are reserved for the construction of the Mae Cho University’s Chiang Khong campus, including 500 rai for fishery development. On top of that 700 rai will be allocated for community forest.

Associate Professor Veerapol Thongma, vice rector for development of Mae Cho University, said the university was earlier approached by a local administration organization to conduct agricultural research and development in the wetland with CPF, a subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand Group, showing interest to invest in the research.

However, he said that the university had rejected the proposal.

Meanwhile, Chiang Rai governor Pongsak Wangsamer ordered a panel to study the project to utilize the wetland before there is an approval of the project.