Chana industrial estate protesters dispersed, 36 arrested

Chana industrial estate protesters dispersed, 36 arrested

Protesters against the government’s Chana Industrial Estate project in Songkhla province rally under a tent in front of Government House on Monday night. (Photo supplied)

Crowd control police on Monday night arrested 36 members of the Chana Rakthin Network who rallied in front of Government House in protest against the government's planned industrial estate development in Songkhla's Chana district.

The protesters said the government promised in December last year to revoke all cabinet resolutions involving the project and start over again, with a strategic environment assessment of the development.

However, one year after making the promise, no action had been taken on the part of the government, they said.

Early on Monday night, about 50 members of the network gathered in front of Government House. They set up a tent near entrance gate No 1, according to police.

Police from the Protecftion and Crown Control Division arrived at the scene about 9pm. They lined up in a column on Phitsanulok road. The police read out an announcement, warning the protesters they were breaking the emergency decree.

The police held talks with the protesters, asking them to move from in front of Government House to beyond Chamai Maruchet bridge. The protesters refused to comply, police said.

At 9.22pm, the police started to disperse the protesters.

At 9.41pm, 36 protesters – five men and 31 women – were rounded up and moved in vehicles for detention at the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit road.

As proposed by the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centref (SBPAC), the cabinet on May 7, 2019 approved in principle the Chana Industrial Estate project.

The project had been touted as a model for future industrial developments by the SBPAC and a way to help the local economy.

Under the proposal, the private sector would contribute 100% of investment for the project. It is part of the government’s development plans for the southernmost provinces, covering Chana district in Songkhla, Sungai Kolok district in Narathiwat, Betong in Yala and Nong Chik district in Pattani.

The private sector would also build all the infrastructure in the industrial estate. It was initially estimated there would be at least 200 private investment projects in the estate.

The project had faced strong resistance from local communities and civic rights groups, especially because the government reportedly planned to rezone the land from agricultural to industrial use.

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