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Environmental groups file petition against junta order

Environmental protection groups have filed a petition against the junta order to ease regulations on the construction of power plants, saying the order violates human rights.

A network of eight provincial environmental protection groups and the EnLawThai Foundation (EnLaw) on Monday, 18 April 2016, filed a joint petition to the Administrative Court of Bangkok against National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 4/2016.

The order, which was issued by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, in January 2016, exempts all power plants, water treatment plants, garbage disposal and collection plants, recycling plants, and gas processing plants from regulations under the 1975 Town and City Planning Act.

The authorities said that the order is necessary to meet Thailand’s increasing energy demand in the future.

In the petition ‘State Authorities which Violate Human Rights must be Held Accountable’, the group urged the Administrative Court to lift the order saying “[the order] is unlawful and will severely affect the environment, health and livelihood of people in a long run.”

The order is also against the principles of community rights, the environmental group added.

“We are here to maintain the principle that no authority which affects the people is exempt from oversight,” said group representative Surachai Throng-ngam at the Administrative Court.

Criticising the order, Sunee Chairos, Vice-President of the Law Reform Commission of Thailand, said earlier that the order has rendered useless the new town planning bill, which would allow people and civil society groups more participation in making decisions on the development of their cities.

In addition to NCPO Order No. 4/2016, the junta leader in early January also issued the Order No. 3/2016, which exempts the construction of buildings in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) from the regulatory framework of the Town and City Planning Act and other regulations on buildings. The order also takes away from local government the authority to impose regulations on construction in SEZs.

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