NESDB to study feasibility of Kra canal plan

The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) should be entrusted to study the feasibility of the Kra Canal plan which will connect the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea in the South, the Marine Department has suggested.

Suppachai Chanasongkhram, head of the Thai Canal Association’s Phatthalung branch, said the chief of the Marine Department, Chirute Visalachitra, had written to inform the association of the economic, environmental, and national security benefit of this project.

As a result, this project requires consideration at the national policy level as well as a clear-cut action plan to accommodate it. The NESDB, which is responsible for setting policy for national development, should be the main agency to study the feasibility of the project, Mr Suppachai quoted the department chief as saying.

In the past two years, the association which consists of retired generals, politicians and prominent businessmen with Chinese ties has been pushing for the canal project’s revival and has tried to persuade the government to finally implement the mega-canal plan also known as the “Thai Canal” project.

The newly proposed canal project would span a total of 135km and link Songkhla in the Gulf of Thailand to Krabi off the Andaman Sea via Phatthalung, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Trang provinces.

The project would aim to save time and money for ships travelling between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

The group has presented several campaigns to an association of Chinese businesses to seek funding along the way.

Among the campaigns has been a public hearing over the proposed “9A” canal route, which would start in Koh Lanta and Khlong Thom districts of Krabi, and extend to Wang Wiset district in Trang by the Andaman Sea.

The route will extend from Bang Khan, Thung Song, Cha-uat and Hua Sai districts in Nakhon Sri Thammarat all the to Ranot district in Songkhla.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd previously said the government was studying the pros and cons of the project, including its implications for national security and budget expenditure.

He said the government was dealing with several other projects which take priority over the idea of digging a canal that traverses the southern isthmus.

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