BANGKOK –The popular tourist beaches near southern Thailand's Andaman coast may soon play host to an unlikely new fixture: an 800-megawatt coal power plant.
The plan to build a coal-fired plant in Krabi province, known for its white-sand tranquility, has prompted protests in the capital, an ongoing hunger strike and opposition from environmentalists and the country's tourism industry.
More than 100 protesters rallied Monday outside the prime minister's office in Bangkok. Protesters oppose the state power authority's plan push ahead with a bidding process for the plant's construction before an environmental impact assessment has been completed.
Despite Thailand's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, its state power authority envisions building nine coal power plantsin the south over the next two decades.
Thailand's prime minister says a government committee has approved construction of an 800-megawatt coal power plant near pristine beaches on the Andaman Sea.
The plant is to be built on the coast in Krabi, a famous tourist destination with soaring cliffs and white sands.
The announcement by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha that the National Energy Policy Committee gave the go-ahead was criticized by activists who worry the plant will pollute local waters and spoil scenery. They say it will damage tourism and fishing, and that eco-friendly alternatives should be considered instead.
Supporters of the plant say it will make up for a big energy shortfall in the country's south and wean it off electricity imports from neighboring countries.