Legal test for water mega-project
The Stop Global Warming Association plans to file a lawsuit seeking to halt the government's Bt350-billion water-management plan, saying the bidding procedures for the mega-project violate the Constitution.Meanwhile, academics expressed concern that the project would pave the way for large-scale corruption due to a lack of transparency in the bidding process.
Association president Srisuwan Janya said he would collect signatures from members of the public for use in filing a lawsuit with the Administrative Court asking it to stop the plan.
He said the scheme violates the Constitution's Articles 57, 58 and 87, which require the government and relevant agencies to inform local people about projects to be established in their communities and to allow them to participate in decision-making.
"I will file a lawsuit with the Administrative Court within the next two weeks. We have to stop this mega-project, as the government has not complied with the Constitution and [the plan] would damage the country," Srisuwan said.
He was speaking at a public seminar titled "From Mae Wong Dam to Kaeng Sua Ten Dam and the Bt350 billion Water and Flood Management" held by the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation at Rangsit University's Social Innovation College.
He said the government has also skipped constitutionally mandated legal procedures requiring it to conduct environmental and health impact assessments (EHIAs) for each of the plan's sub-projects to win the acceptance of local people who might be affected by the schemes.
"So far, EHIAs have not been conducted for most of the projects under the Bt350-billion plan, nor have they won approval from the authorities," he said.
Asst Prof Sangsit Piriyarangson, dean of Rangsit University's Social Innovation College, said the government had failed to follow good governance in the water-management plan, which he said did not comply with the law.
He said the mega-project would pave the way for corruption, as the government has skipped many legal procedures governing the bidding process.
Sangsit also expressed concern over the sources of the massive loans needed to fund the Bt350-billion government project.
"Nobody from the government can provide a clear answer about the sources for this huge loan, the rate of interest, or the method of repayment," Sangsit said. "Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, who chairs the Water and Flood Management Commission, must take responsibility for clarifying this to the public."
Somming Muangrong, a chairperson of the Kaeng Sua Ten Dam Opposition Committee, said local villagers in Phrae's Tambon Sa-Iab would not allow any government or private agency to go inside the village to collect information related to dam construction, as they were worried it would lead to the government starting the process of building the dam.
"We will fight to the death to stop the dam. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," he said.
He also submitted an open letter to two senators - Surajit Chiravej and Prasarn Mareukapitak - urging them to work to halt the water and flood project, as it would harm local communities and resources.