Saturday, September 09, 2006

Students' safety risked in rush to open airport

fresh on the heels of the school milk scandal, here's another example of Thai style caring. Gosh, it's good to keep the foreigners out by passing racist anti-foreigner legistlation, they'd be so much worse to Thai people than Thais are, right?

from The Nation:

Students' safety 'risked in rush to open airport'

College claims government ignored plea for Bt1.02 bn to address noise impact

The safety and welfare of thousands of students at Thailand's leading college is being ignored in the rush to open nearby Suvarnabhumi Airport, claim college executives.

Siriwat Bhothivejjakul, deputy rector of King Mongkut Institute of Technology, Lad Krabang, said the government had rushed the opening of the airport, even though environmental and security problems facing the college and its students have yet to be solved.

The institute's 12-storey building has not been fitted with an obstruction light to warn aircraft, while another 22 buildings that would be severely affected by high-level noise from aircraft landing and taking off have not been sound-proofed.

"About 100 of our buildings need to be modified to prevent noise and quake problems from the airport, which is located only 3-4 kilometres from us," Siriwat said.

The institute had asked Airports of Thailand (AOT) to set a budget of Bt1.02 billion to solve the problems, but it had been ignored, Siriwat said.

In February, the government resolved to pay a first instalment of Bt214 million, but the academy has not received the money, although the airport is going to open on September 28.

Siriwat said each time the institute consulted the government about other possible effects, it would simply set up a committee which failed to take any action. He said the formation of more than 100 committees had failed to solve the problems.

"If the airport is opened without these problems being solved, the opening would go against the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation," Siriwat said.

"The institute plans to gather students and residents in the affected area to protest about the airport opening and to petition the Administrative Court."

Somchai Sawasdeepon, general manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, said the Bt214 million payment to the college was being processed.

He pledged the airport would look after all organisations, institutes and people affected by the airport during construction and after its opening.

But Siriwat said even if the money was paid today, it would be impossible to modify the college buildings before the airport opened. The institute would have to spend at least two or three months on the work.

An institute source studying the airport's environmental effects said the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning had called on the AOT to clarify the reasons for its delay in taking action to prevent environmental effects following the environmental impact assessment.