By Thai Newsroom Reporters
VILLAGERS IN NAKHU district of Kalasin today (Sept. 18) gathered in protest of the air force’s plan to turn a parcel of land in the premises of a Free Thai Movement air base into a sugarcane plantation.
The local villagers of Nakhu and nearby districts of the northeastern province peacefully demonstrated on the perimeters of Nakhu air base under care of Air Wing 23 against the plan to rent some 100 rai of its empty land to a private firm to open a sugarcane plantation which, they said, would only spoil the environment and affect the villagers’ way of life. Bulldozers and other construction equipment have been spotted at work in part of the 500-rai air base.
The villagers have been concerned over the likelihood of hazardous and polluted environment in and around a nearby creek caused by chemical fertilisers and insecticides which may be used in the sugarcane plantation, according to Nakhu mayor Thaksin Jampong.
During the Second World War, Free Thai Movement members and local villagers had assisted the United States and other Allied forces in the construction of Nakhu air base to fight against Japanese forces in the Indochina region.
The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great visited Nakhu twice in 1962 and initiated the construction of a water reservoir for use by local farmers in the dry season.
Air Wing 23, based in Udon Thani, has reportedly planned to finance welfare benefits for its personnel with the income from the planned rental of the land.
Nonetheless, the air force unit has earlier turned down plans to turn part of the empty air base into a tourist attraction or a Second World War museum, the Nakhu mayor said.
Many more villagers of Nakhu district as well as those from other parts of Kalasin and Sakon Nakhon will join in the mass protest against the air force’s planned rental of part of the historic air base to the sugarcane-growing firm tomorrow.
Top: Kalasin villagers protesting against a plan by the air force to rent out part of a Free Thai Movement air base to a company for growing sugarcane. Photo: Matichon
Front Page: Work has already started at the plot planned to be rented out. Photo: MNG Online