World Habitat Day demonstrators call on gov’t to address community issues

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BANGKOK, Oct 1 –  More than 1,500 people rallied at the Thai capital’s historic Royal Plaza today, calling on the Thai government to solve the country’s habitat and settlement problems.

Under the gaze of the King Rama V, Chulalongkorn, astride a noble charger, the demonstration in front of the old Parliament was not  ar from the United Nations Asian and Pacific regional headquarters and Thailand’s Government House.

Commemorating UN-designated World Habitat Day, demonstrators from the Community Organisations Development Institute (CODI) and a number of other habitat-related networks said they wanted the Thai government to include settlement problems in the national agenda.

The demonstrators planned to move to the UN headquarters on Rajdamnoen Avenue, the Ministry of Transport and Government House later in the day.

Somboon Singkhing, a CODI member, said more than 100,000 families have been affected by the government’s mega projects including the construction of dual-track railways, Bangkok electric mass transit rail systems, and the building of dams and flood-control dykes.

Some villagers are engaged in legal disputes with the government, he said, adding that the government should advocate laws to endorse local community management of resources for human settlements, and that an ad hoc committee should be set up to solve the pending problems.

The United Nations has declared the first Monday in October the World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. The theme for this year is “Changing Cities, Building Opportunities.”