Fit to Be Thai-ed
Environmentalists and other concerned citizens in Thailand are waging a fierce fight against a proposed coal-fired power plant along the shore of the Gulf of Thailand, a project that they say could harm a coral reef and the fishing grounds that provide livelihoods for many of the 10,000 locals. They also worry that the plant’s emissions and ash waste would pollute the air and land, and that the area’s burgeoning tourist industry would be hurt. Bitter disputes over the project have led to violent protests and assassination attempts against activist leaders. This type of grassroots activism was unheard of in Thailand even a few years ago, but a constitution adopted in 1997 requires public hearings on major projects like the power plant and has opened the way for average citizens to demand a say in decisions affecting their lives.