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Lampang villagers displeased with compensation awarded by court

Judge proposes Bt13m payout by egat to 130 people affected by years of pollution from coalfired Mae Mo power plant

THE ELECTRICITY Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) may pay up to Bt13 million in compensation to 130 villagers affected by its lignite-coal-fuelled Mae Mo power plant in the northern province of Lampang if a recommendation to the Supreme Administrative Court is accepted.

However, villagers who have been affected by pollution from the electricity-generating complex for more than 10 years were disappointed with the amount of compensation recommended by the judge in the case.

Statements were made for the consideration of the panel of judges hearing the case before they issue a final verdict.

Supreme Administrative Court Judge Sumeth Deuisres, who was invited to speak by the panel, said he had studied the case and found that Egat had neglected its responsibility to control the amount of sulphur dioxide discharged from the plant, resulting in damages to local people.

He, therefore, suggested that the panel instruct Egat to pay compensation to affected villagers.

If the recommendation is accepted, each of the 130 villagers who filed complaints to the court would receive compensation ranging from Bt10,000 to Bt240,000, depending on how much damage they had suffered.

Sumeth also said Egat must comply with the environmental impact assessment report to prevent pollution and repair the damage to the environment.

Egat should install an 800-metre-long water curtain to reduce dust in the atmosphere.

The power authority should also set up a committee to study the proper way to relocate villagers living in the danger zone within a 5-kilometre radius of the power plant.

It was also suggested that Egat recover the lignite mines with reforestation. Meanwhile, trees that have grown in the wetlands should be eliminated and that area reforested as well.

About 300 villagers from Mae Mo district were invited to attend a hearing on the case. Maliwan Nakwiroj, who led a group of villagers affected by the pollution, said on their behalf that Egat should pay attention to the villagers' health.

As for the recommended amount of compensation, she said it was not worth people's lives.

Parichart Kaewmoon, 39, whose husband's death was blamed on the pollution, was in tears.

She said she would get Bt200,000 from Egat according to the judge's recommendation but that would not be enough for her to continue her life and raise her two children.

Srisuwan Janya, president of the Stop Global Warming Association, said the judge's recommendation showed that the court had paid attention to the problem of villagers who had been affected by the lignite power plants for more than 10 years.

He said at least 20 people in the area had died from the pollution.

To prevent further damage, he called on Egat to halt its plan to construct another coal-fired power plant in Krabi.




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