Govt accused of rushing public hearing on Bt350-bn scheme
The Stop Global Warming Association (SGWA) has accused the government of ignoring the Central Administrative Court's order related to its water management master plan.
The master plan involves the controversial Bt350-billion water-management modules.
On June 27, the court ordered that these modules be put on hold until all legal requirements, such as public hearings, environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and environmental health impact assessments (EHIAs) were met.
SGWA says it suspects the government is ignoring the order because the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC) has already prepared to hold public forums on the mega-projects in just 36 provinces.
The first forum is scheduled to take place in Lamphun on October 7.
"Such forums will never comprehensively cover the people [likely] to be affected by the modules," SGWA president Srisuwan Janya said in letters submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister's Office, the permanent secretary, and the Office of the WFMC chairman.
He pointed out that during the massive 2011 floods, people in more than 65 provinces were affected.
The SGWA also said the public-forum process was rushed because all 36 forums were scheduled to be completed in a two-month timeframe.
"On some days, two forums will take place in two provinces at the same time," the SGWA added.
In the letters, Srisuwan added that the venues of the forums would be held mainly in towns, making it hard for people from rural areas to join in.
"We believe the government has chosen such venues because it does not want people [likely to] be affected by the water projects to show up at the forums," he said.
The letters urged WFMC chairman Plodprasop Suraswadi, who is also a deputy prime minister, to review the public-forum plan.
"Such public-forum preparations are clearly against the court's order and also the Constitution," the letters said.
The SGWA said it would seek the help of a court if the government went ahead with the rushed and questionable public-forum preparations.
The government had approved a Bt350-billion budget for the comprehensive overhaul of the country's water-management systems in the wake of the 2011 flood crisis.
Despite caution from many experts, the WFMC has prepared the nine-water modules and already chosen their constructors.
The SGWA hoped the government would re-start the whole process about the implementation of the water-management master plan.
"It needs to put its water-management master plan for public review and listen to the opinion of people before they can conclude on modules, conduct EIAs or EHIAs, and then call bidding," the SGWA suggested.