By Taan Wannagul – Climate Watch Thailand
The Thailand Power Development Plan 2015-2036 (PDP2015) of the Ministry of Energy. Focus on creating energy security and electricity. By distributing fuel to electricity, reduce the use of natural gas, increase the proportion of electricity produced by clean coal technology. And they found Southern Thailand is vulnerable to problems of inadequate electricity and the demand for electricity increased. This is why the power plants in Southern Thailand are being added between 2019-2024.
The Thepha coal power plant project is a plan to increase the proportion of electricity produced by coal. To respond the electricity demand of the country and strengthen the stability of the electric power in the south of Thailand. There are two power plants with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts. It will start producing electricity for the first time at 1,100 megawatts in 2021. And it will start producing electricity for the second time 1,100 megawatts in 2024. The total is 2,200 megawatts.
And these are the principles and reasons written in the PDP2015. But there are management problems. Because villagers in the area think their livelihood is being threatened. And they questioned their future lives.
Madtayom Chaitem, He is a new generation in the Thepha District whose role in the fight against coal power plants.
“We live by dependence natural resources, sea, mountains and rivers. We don’t live by dependence on industrial. We want to eat fish, eat crabs, eat shellfish and shrimp we went out to catch it in less than an hour. If there is a coal power plant, It’s a shamp. Our livelihood will be gone. I think we may have to buy canned fish and expensive shellfish that are not fresh in the market to eat” Madtayom said.
As he said, There are abundant natural resources. The villagers used as a source of food and earn income by fishery. There is the outlet of the river to the sea. It is a source of food for aquatic species. The villagers can fishery along the beach. And a large tract of mangrove areas in Songkhla Province to Pattani Province. That is a place for important aquaculture. Including the river in the mangrove forest is the fishery place of the local fisherfolk. Where they can catch the fish with their bare hands.
Sanusi Saleh, an active fisherfolk member of Songkla-Pattani Anti-Coal movement, told me about the challenge that make it hard for the peoples to maintain their sound livelihoods. Communities are fighting against the proposed Thepha coal power plant. They are making all the efforts to protect their lives, lives of the current and future generations, culture, environment and livelihoods. Coal isn’t needed in Thepha. Coal isn’t needed anywhere else. Impact of coal are enormous, from local environmental pollution, public health, to global warming. Should this coal power plant be constructed, surely we will see lots of things we haven’t seen before in our area, especially pollution, destruction to our resources and livelihoods. While those we have seen since we were born will be totally disappeared like corals. We need to stand in solidarity and demand for a stop of coal power plant.
Over the past three years, several times they have called for the cancellation of coal power plant project in Thapha. Then proposed the development of renewable energy. But the Thai government is not interested in their suggestions. It leads to hunger strike against coal power plant at the front of the United Nations in Thailand in February 2018. Just a few days before the ASEAN Leaders Meeting about Sustainable Development Goals. With the affordable and clean energy goal.
That is reasoning the Minister of Energy must make an agreement with them. To the establishment of a joint committee to study the Environment and Health Impact Assessment. That makes them happy and homing.
But when the government announces the list of committee. Became a committee that have a tendency to support the coal power plant project.
And this is the endless fighting story of anti-coal movement in Thailand.