Court sides with villagers in compensation case

national February 08, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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The Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a lower court's ruling ordering a company to pay more than Bt36 million in compensation to 151 Karen villagers.



 

The Karen, who live in a remote village in Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum district, sued Lead Concentrate Co Ltd, claiming that lead emissions from its factory had harmed their health. 
The case has dragged on for more than a decade, and the defendant still has the right to petition to the Supreme Court. Surapong Kong-janteuk, who heads the Lawyers Council’s human-rights subcommittee on the stateless, migrant workers and displaced people, yesterday accompanied the plaintiffs’ representatives to the courtroom. 
“The plaintiffs have been fighting for this case for a long time. They are happy with this verdict,” Surapong said. 
The court, however, dismissed a separate complaint seeking to force the company to rehabilitate Klity Creek, which runs through their neighbourhood. The court accepted an argument that the lead leak was caused when three sludge wells burst during a storm, and that lead contamination had been found in many areas in Thong Pha Phum district. 
In 2008, the 151 Karen villagers lodged a separate complaint with the Administrative Court against the Pollution Control Department (PCD) over its slow response to the leak and contamination of Klity Creek, Surapong said. 
“The Supreme Administrative Court is now looking into that case,” he said. According to an affidavit, the plaintiffs seek more than Bt28,000 each from the PCD.
Surapong said the lead contamination in the creek would affect not just locals, because water from it flowed to the Mae Klong River, which provides raw water for the Metropolitan Waterworks Autho-rity’s tap-water production.
“What we want most is the rehabilitation of Klity Creek. We want clean natural water for our daily life and for the future of our children,” said Yaser Nasuansuwan, one of the plaintiffs.

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