Urban development in Asia has dramatically changed in the last four decades. There has been a shift from primary sectors such as agriculture, fishing and mining to secondary and tertiary sectors through industrial growth and service provision accompanied by rapid economic development in many of the Asian developing countries (Douglas, 1995; Dahiya, 2003). In developing countries the relationship between urbanization and industrialization is not always clear. For example, industrial premises are established in the middle of agricultural land without any infrastructure base. Planned industrialization wherever present is only at an initial stage in most cities. This is also limited to industrial zoning instead of industrial estates. As a result the impact of urban development and industrial development on natural environment is very visible (Losada et al., 1998; Burgess, 2000).
The vulnerability of the peri-urban region is further complicated by the fact that it encompasses a large number of individual jurisdictions in term of local government and has both urban and rural characteristics. Each jurisdiction may have different administrative structures, laws and regulations. As no single authority is responsible for overall planning and management of a metropolis, an extended metropolitan area with mixed urban and rural characteristics is a complex phenomenon (Robinson, 1995; Aguilar and Ward, 2003). This complexity creates conflicts among the natural resources users of different sectors and government (Panayotou and Phantumvanit, 1991).
This paper probes into the conflict between development and the environment in an extended metropolitan area. It studies the relationship between urbanization, industrialization and the continuous exploitation of natural resources such as land and water resources, for non-agricultural use. Expanding human requirements and economic activities are placing ever-increasing pressures on natural resources, creating competition and conflicts. If in the future, human requirements are to be met in a sustainable manner, it is now essential to resolve these conflicts and move towards more effective and efficient use of existing natural resources.
The paper is based on a research study conducted in an adjacent province of Bangkok Metropolis in Thailand. Urbanization and industrialization in Thailand is predominantly concentrated in the Bangkok metropolitan region, which is located in the fertile flood plan of the Chao Phraya River. Over the years urban and industrial areas have been extended to the hinterland of Bangkok city. As a result, large portion of productive agricultural land and water bodies have been utilized for industrial use in the outskirts catering to about 80 per cent of all the nation's industries that are located in and around Bangkok (ADB, 2001). The unplanned development has not only affected the productivity of agricultural land but also poses serious problems to the local environment (Water pollution, soil degradation and conflict are of significant concern) and intensify the conflict between resources use in the area (Fazal, 2000). To analyze these problems, Pathumthani province was selected as a case study area as it is located in the fringe of Bangkok (see Fig 1). It occupies a total area of 1,525 square kilometers of plain land in the flood plan of Chao Phraya River, where the major landuse had been agricultural. The present landuse includes a combination of agricultural and industrial areas with other uses such as residential, educational, governmental office, golf courses and market places. There is no demarcation of industrial land in this province except few industrial estates. As a result urban areas and industrial zones are rapidly increasing in the province. This has happened mainly after the government made regulations to restrict the growth of new industries within the Bangkok city as prescribed by the Fourth Nation Plan (1977-1981). This has also lead to relocate some industries which were previously located in the capital city in the peripheral provinces. Contrary to the strict planning regulation enforced within the area governed by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), the provincial governments have weaker planning control. As a result, there is a lack of zoning or policies to protect the highly productive agricultural land in Pathumthani, there has been a mushrooming of industrial premises, housing complexes and golf courses that are displacing agricultural land and misuse of existing natural resources (Mekvichai et al., 1990).
Fig. 1: Location Map of Study Area