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Environment activists boycott Thailand's dam project

Publication Date : 18-04-2012

 

The Stop Global Warming Association (SGWA) yesterday called on people in Thailand to join its campaign against the construction of the Mae Wong Dam.

The group aims to find 13,280 co-complainants for its petition, which will be filed with the Central Administrative Court of Thailand. The petition calls for the construction project to be scrapped.

"We will go to various provinces to inform locals and to gather authorisation letters allowing us to represent them in court," SGWA president Srisuwan Janya said yesterday.

Srisuwan said the SGWA team plans to campaign in many provinces including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ubon Ratchathani, Rayong, Chon Buri, Surat Thani, Phang Nga and Songkhla.

The campaign follows the SGWA's statement last week condemning the Cabinet's green light for the Mae Wong Dam. The statement came out after the Cabinet approved the plan to build the dam inside the Mae Wong National Park with a budget of 13.28 billion baht (US$431 million) on April 10.

"The approved budget for the construction is too high," Srisuwan reiterated yesterday. "[The high cost] reflects irregularities."

According to the SGWA statement, the authorities requested only 9.6 billion baht for the construction last year.

Srisuwan yesterday said the construction, if it goes ahead, would hurt future generations.

"Our children will face adverse consequences. The budget for the construction will come from massive foreign loans and our offspring will have to repay. They will also suffer the loss of forestland," he said.

Conservationists have said the construction of Mae Wong Dam would destroy more than 11,000 rai of forestland in Mae Wong National Park, which spans some parts of Nakhon Sawan and Kamphaeng Phet.

The construction would also affect a variety of wildlife and plants at the national park - home to more than 57 mammal species, 305 bird species, 22 reptile species, seven amphibian species, and 68 freshwater-fish species.

Srisuwan disregarded the government's explanation that the Mae Wong Dam would provide irrigation to more people and prevent flooding.

"There are more than 10 big and medium-sized dams in the North already," he said.

He said the SGWA had now registered a "Group Opposing Mae Wong Dam" account on Facebook to increase communication with people who also disagreed with the planned dam.

Srisuwan said people could also go to his association's website, www.thaisgwa.com, for more information and download forms authorising the SGWA to act on their behalf.

Many conservation groups have expressed opposition to the construction of Mae Wong Dam.

The Ras Rak Pa Group from Phrae has described the planned construction as destruction of forestland.

"For the sake of posterity, the government should stop building big dams," the representative of the group said. "It should not construct the Mae Wong Dam."

Meanwhile, a group calling itself the Activists Who Used to Work with the Natural Resources and Environment Conservation Commission and Friends yesterday issued a statement asking the Cabinet to scrap its resolution to allow the dam's construction.

"The government should take into account the opinions of the National Environment Board, which did not approve the environmental impact assessment of the Mae Wong Dam in 2002," the statement said.

 

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