The 7km-long project spanning both sides of the Chao Phraya River poses no risk to locals or the environment, the BMA says.
In February, the BMA cleared out 268 households along a 7km-long stretch of the Chao Phraya to make way for a new river development project under the working title ‘The New Landmark of Thailand.’
The Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) has presented renderings of the promenade, which will stretch 7km along both sides of the river, between the Rama VII and Pin Klao bridges, and says an environmental impact assessment (EIA) will not be necessary as the project is not considered harmful to the environment or people.
Previously, however, academics and civic groups called for a review of the Bangkok riverside landmark project based on three major concerns: river flow blockage, riverside scenery and public participation from local communities.
In response, the BMA claims it will adjust the dimension of the promenade from 19.5 meters wide to 12 meters wide, guaranteeing that construction will not block the river flow or riverside landscape, though these changes remain just talk for now.
The B14 billion project's construction is expected to take 18 months with the promenade to scheduled open in 2017.
Yossapon Boonsom, head landscape designer for Shma Design, who’s currently running a Facebook campaign called Friend of The Rivers (facebook.com/friebdsoftheriver), says the BMA's decision to forge ahead without a careful study of the environmental consequences will result in long-term problems.
He cites the original proposal for a 19.5-meter structure on both sides of the 400-meter-wide river as being damaging to the ecosystem, adding that if the project goes ahead without proper consultation with riverside communities it is destined to fail.
What's more, the new landscape design by the Department of Public Works and Planning (a subdivision of the Ministry of Interior) looks a lot less impressive than what Shma Design and UDDC proposed to the Ministry of Interior for another stretch of the Chao Phraya earlier in March (see our gallery).
In our opinion, this plan seems seems both reckless in its disregard for the massive impact it will have on Bangkok's biggest waterway and aesthetically disastrous. For something of this importance, the BMA should have organized an international design competition instead of relying on its in-house architects.