Kabin Buri residents claim officials abused authority in approving biomass power plant at conservation site
VILLAGERS FROM Prachin Buri’s Kabin Buri district yesterday filed a lawsuit with the Central Administrative Court to revoke the licence of a biomass power plant planned by KS Marketing International in tambon Khao Mai Kaew.
They claimed related agencies had abused their authority in issuing the licence because the area was reserved for conservation and could not be the site for a power plant.
The 835 villagers under the Khao Mai Kaew conservation club also urged the court to order the company to restore the construction site back to its natural condition.Those named in the lawsuit were: the Office of Energy Regulatory Commission (OERC), the Department of Industrial Works, the Prachin Buri provincial governor, the Prachin Buri provincial industrial office head, the Tambon Khao Mai Kaew Administration Organisation, and the former village headman of Ban Khao Mai Kaew Moo 3 Chakan Lee-ut. All were accused of abusing their authority in allowing KS Marketing to build the 9.9-megawatt plant and sell electricity.
The plaintiffs claimed that no public hearing was held in relation to the power plant projec and that the affected villagers had filed petitions to related agencies several times before.
Important documents ‘missing’
OERC regulations required an energy business licence applicant to present a photocopy of a local administrative organisation document saying the land plot could be legally used to build a power plant, the lawsuit said.
However, the responsible |agencies didn’t require the company to present such a document, it said.
In fact, a ministerial regulation for Prachin Buri city planning announced on November 2, 2012 that tambon Khao Mai Kaew was a conservation area for rural and agriculture as well as a conservation area for forestry.
Hence it could not have a power plant and the licence was illegally issued, the lawsuit said.
The tambon Khao Mai Kaew administration organisation had agreed in principle to the company’s proposal to build the power plant on June 24, 2010, with a note requiring a public hearing.
It was concerned that the |plant would be near the communities’ main canal, and its tapioca burning would produce much ash and dust.
The villagers’ inquiry on progress found the agencies had been notified that a meeting to bring all sides to an understanding had been called and the licence had been approved for the company, so the villagers filed this lawsuit.