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Kayak Route ‘To Counter EEC’
June 19th, 2017 | 09:46 AM | 3500 views
LOCAL PEOPLE in Chachoengsao’s Tha Takiap district opened a new kayaking route in the Siyat Canal to tackle local environmental problems and empower the community ahead of the major Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development in the province.
Siyat Canal is a waterway that runs from the densely forested Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary.
From the shore, it looks like a small canal that has no real significance as it twists and turns through rubber plantations and farms. However, from a kayak, drifting with the current, you can observe the pristine nature on the bank and feel the rhythm of the river.
Because of its unique geographic features, a group of local people led by Prasert Prompiban, head of Tha Kloi Village, came up with a plan to breathe new life into the abandoned canal with the help of Thammasat University.
“I had the idea for two years to make the canal … a new tourist destination, so it can boost the local economy and help to solve local problems, but it had never become concrete until now,” Prasert said.
He said his village and communities in Tha Takiap had problems, such as a land rights dispute with the Royal Forest Department and Agricultural Land Reform Office, low prices for agricultural products, pollution from a nearby paper industry, and elephants encroaching on people’s farms. “We hope the tourism development will help to solve these problems, will be sustainable development for our community and will profit local people directly in the wake of the EEC industrial development in our province,” he said.
The 12-kilometre kayak route was launched on June 11. People from Ban Tha Kloi and nearby communities maintain the pristine areas along the kayak route, so tourists can enjoy the scenery along the banks of the canal, while residents have a new source of income.
Bang Pakong River Network coordinator Kan Tattiyakul said there had been major industrialisation in the Eastern Seaboard 30 years ago, showing that major projects could boost the local economy. But disparities increased significantly because the development had a great impact on local people and destroyed resources in the region.
“From this, we have a stance to say ‘no’ to unsustainable development. This tourism project at Siyat Canal can be a good example of sustainable development, which can profit the local people,” Kan said. “We do not resist the EEC development, but we will make sure that the local people will be part of it and will profit from it as well.”
Chachoengsao Vice Governor Kittiphan Rotchanachewa said the province could not prevent the EEC, as Chachoengsao had many advantages for investment, such as its close proximity to Bangkok, convenient transportation, and nearby airports and seaports.
But Kittiphan said the province would be developed as a smart residential zone, which is beneficial and clean development. “We cannot deny that due to our location, there will surely be some industrial development, but this is the era of environmental friendly development and we must develop our hometown in a way that will benefit the local people and not destroy our environment.”
Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a vice rector at Thammasat University, said he decided to help people to develop the new tourism spot because it would not only help them tackle their own problems, but also raise environmental awareness among tourists. “Thai culture has roots in the river, but since our society was modernised, we have turned away from the river. This new kayak route will make tourists realise our strong bond with the river again and afterward they will take better care of our rivers.”
courtesy of BANGKOK POST
by Pratch Rujivanarom
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