The Chao Phraya River is one of the major rivers in Thailand and runs through the centre of Bangkok until it disperses into the Gulf of Thailand. This beautiful river is hugely important and has served as a trade route for many years. Various towns and cities have been built on its banks. The beauty and security of the stretch of river that runs through central Bangkok are under threat, it is claimed, from the Chao Phraya Promenade development. Many people have raised concerns about the validity of this development and the potential negative impact it may have on the river landscape.
What does this proposed renovation include?
The project in its entirety will stretch for a vast section of the Chao Phraya River through the centre of Bangkok but each section will be constructed during a different period. The first planned phase will stretch from the Rama VII Bridge to the Phra Pinklao Bridge and pass by some of Bangkok’s iconic tourist attractions. These include The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. The promenade itself will transform the landscape of this section of the river and provide an improved area for public recreation. This will include walking trails, bicycle paths, public parks and restroom facilities.
What concerns were raised by the public and residents?
Although this new development should improve tourism in the area and hopefully generate custom for businesses, hotels and tour providers, there are major concerns that it will also have a negative impact on the environment and delicate eco-system of the river. Concerns raised include:
– Potential negative impact on the Chao Phraya River
– Narrow the path of the river and affect its drainage
– Could mean homes and families to be relocated
– Could aid serious flooding issues during the rainy season
As you can see, the potential dangers and long term effects of this development could be quite severe and public reservations are obviously based on these fears. Key players in the development have stated that permission has been given from the relevant environmental agencies and that the required assessments have been carried out and signed off. From their point of view, they have followed procedure and have sufficient backing to proceed.
Why does the “Navigation in Thai Waters Act” play a key role?
A final interesting point about this situation is the upcoming “Navigation in Thai Waters Act” that will be passed in the country. This piece of legislation disallows certain structures on waterfronts including piers, boardwalks, and homes. Despite the strict regulations of this new nationwide act, it will not officially come into play until later in the year – by that time the Chao Phraya development will be well under construction and thus bypass any restrictions from the new act. Residents and opposition of the development claim this is hugely unfair, and that the timing of both the government act and the development have been timed accordingly. This new development certainly looks to be an interesting project to look out for. Only time will tell what environmental and ecological impact the Chao Phraya promenade will have on this beautiful river and the surrounding cityscape.
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