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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Locals Protest Dolomite Mine Near Kaeng Krachan National Park

Locals near Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi are protesting the planned opening of a private dolomite mine on a 540-rai plot of land, located just a kilometer from the national park. The community is concerned about the potential impact on their way of life and the park’s environment.

Somchet Chantana, director of the Phetchaburi Office of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), recently inspected the disputed land with World Heritage Committee officials and park rangers. Mr. Somchet highlighted three primary concerns regarding the mine. The first issue is that the World Heritage Committee might disapprove of the mine, as it will be situated within the buffer zone of the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site. This complex extends into the forest areas of three national parks and one wildlife sanctuary in Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The second concern revolves around the potential noise and air pollution the mining operations could generate. Lastly, there are worries about the adverse effects on tourism in the national park and its surrounding areas.

On Monday, villagers in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan district filed a complaint with the authorities. They reported that a private company had inspected the site where it plans to operate the dolomite mine, which is located approximately a kilometer from the national park. The company has requested permission to operate the mine in Moo 4 and Moo 8 villages in tambon Song Pee Nong, Kaeng Krachan district. According to a map distributed to locals by the company, the mine would cover a 540-rai area that includes a bamboo forest and large trees.

A map created by the Phetchaburi DNP office indicates that the disputed land lies in a buffer zone, 1.14 kilometers from the boundary of Kaeng Krachan National Park. Atita Klinsuwan, an official at the Industry Ministry office in Phetchaburi province, stated that the company’s request is under consideration, emphasizing that the final decision rests with the local community.

This is not the first time a mining proposal for this location has surfaced. In 2008, a different company submitted a similar proposal, which was met with local opposition and ultimately did not proceed.

In addition to Mr. Somchet, the inspection team included officials from the World Heritage Committee and park rangers, all of whom were present to evaluate the potential environmental impact of the proposed mine.

Nora Zaarimi
Author: Nora Zaarimi

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