BANGKOK — Opponents of the government’s plan to build a concrete promenade along the Chao Phraya River on Thursday welcomed the news that a court ordered the project to be halted.
The Administrative Court on Wednesday ordered City Hall to cease development of a 57-kilometer boardwalk along the river, citing a lack of permits. Yossapon Boonsom, founder of Friends of the River which spearheaded the opposition, said he considered the ruling a tentative win.
“It’s a good opportunity to step back and rethink about the project in a more inclusive manner,” Yossapon said. “It has to be built in accordance with the law, and more studies are needed to minimize impacts to the environment and relevant stakeholders.”
The court ordered City Hall to halt the project unless ordered otherwise after ruling that the officials have not secured appropriate building permissions for the construction.
City Hall had earlier been given permission to build on the river from the Marine Department as they declared the promenade as a river pier, which spares them from the contentious process of submitting a blueprint and environmental impact assessment for approval.
However, the court saw it otherwise, and regarded the project, which also includes bicycle lanes and sightseeing viewpoints, as a structure that requires a blueprint to be submitted prior to the development.
Yossapon said the group will continue to fight in the court until the project is completely folded.
“We will continue working with legal and urban development experts to strengthen our accusations in the lawsuit,” he said. “They still have a chance to appeal the order.”
The complaint was brought forward by the group in 2018, which accused City Hall and three other authorities of rushing the massive redevelopment project without proper study of its environmental and social impacts.
The 14-billion baht project, presented by the junta government as a new landmark for the capital, has been beset with opposition since it was first approved in 2015.
Activists also opposed the plan to extend concrete platforms 6 to 10 meters into the river, saying that the government has never consulted with residents who will be directly impacted by the structure, as well as criticizing its aesthetics.