In any development, it is said that we need to listen to the people or undertake it with the people's participation. Yet do you think that what non-government organisations are doing in the case of Map Ta Phut has been agreed to by the people of Map Ta Phut?
All it does is show that NGOs are alienated from the people.
I recently conducted a survey on the opinions of 2,140 people living in Map Ta Phut, with the cooperation of 57 high school students of Map Tha Phut's Pan Pittayakan School.
The findings were sent to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The survey found that 56% of the people agreed that industry in Map Ta Phut had to be expanded.
More specifically, 50% of house owners agreed to the idea, while 48% of house and land owners combined were in agreement. For house renters, 65% of them backed the need for expansion. This implies that the majority of the people in Map Ta Phut see a need for more industry.
Sixty-nine percent of people agree that in the case of needing to solve pollution problems, public land acquisition (land purchase or eminent domain), with ample compensation, is a solution. People in all groups of different property holdings had a consensus on this matter. This implies that if there is real pollution, they are willing to move away as long as they are given ample compensation.
When considering NGOs, 68% of the people in all groups disagreed with the protest rally over pollution in the industrial estate on Sept 30 and the role of the NGOs. This implies that people did not want confrontation and saw that the rally might not help solve the region's problems.
On the whole, the majority of Map Ta Phut people agreed to the need to expand industrial activities. In respect of this, public land acquisition is a solution for moving the people away if pollution is evident, provided that the people are fairly compensated.
Pollution in Map Ta Phut can often be observed; however, the actions to solve the problem seem ineffective and inconsistent.
People have offered a lot of good suggestions. For example, factories must realise the rights of the residents and should not emit pollution, and solution measures must be realistic, not just a face lift.
Proposed direct measures include a decrease in the number of polluting factories, and strict approval of new factories and the closure of polluting factories. In addition, timely and efficient checks from medical doctors on health are a must.
Regarding protection, measures include the expansion of green areas, more trees planted, and the like. For local people, there should be health checks and their full participation in any environmental protection programmes. Furthermore, measures should be put in place regarding public land acquisition, voluntary land sales for industry expansion, and so on.
Selected preventive and watchdog programmes must be conducted with the cooperation of locals, factories and the government in order to catch any instances of illegal pollution emissions. This should be better than any measures applied to all. Polluting factories must be sued and information on the issue concerned must be widely disclosed to the public.
Solving pollution problems in Map Ta Phut is clear and easy and should not be on a one-time, do-or-die basis. However, the need for industries in Map Ta Phut must be realised as well. Otherwise, solutions might be distorted, resulting in the exacerbation of the problems.