Onep must explain ehia rejection, group says
Mae Wong Dam impact assessment knocked backThe Seub Nakhasathien Foundation yesterday urged the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep) to release information on why the first environmental health impact assessment (EHIA) of the planned Mae Wong Dam was rejected.
The call came as the foundation pointed to irregularities in the plan and vowed to oppose the construction of the dam in Nakhon Sawan province.
"The chair of the Mae Wong Dam project's expert committee has been changed," the foundation's chairwoman, Rataya Chantian, told a public forum.
The forum was held on the same day that the Onep hosted an academic seminar on the Mae Wong Dam's EHIA, which the foundation's representatives initially agreed to attend but decided against doing so at the last minute.
"We have just found out that changes have been made to the expert committee," she said.
Santad Somcheewita used to chair the panel, which has instructed the Royal Irrigation Department to improve its EHIA for the Mae Wong Dam.
"I've heard that there are more than 20 points that need improvement," Rataya said.
She also complained that Onep ignored her foundation's plea for a technical hearing to be held on the project.
"A technical hearing would allow all sides to explore mutual solutions for sustainable water management," she said, adding that Onep had chosen to hold just an academic seminar at which it would present its reports.
Rataya said Onep should now frankly inform the public as to why its EHIA on the Mae Wong Dam was rejected.
Pongsak Witthawatchutikul, who previously sat on the expert committee, said the information used in the EHIA for the Mae Wong Dam was not comprehensive enough, and therefore its estimated rainfall information could be inaccurate.
ACADEMIC SEMINAR DEFENDED
Onep secretary-general Santi Boonprakub insisted the seminar had been held to get recommendations from related parties on the Mae Wong Dam plan.
"The recommendations will be used to improve the EHIA," he said.
Present at yesterday's seminar were representatives from the National Parks Department, the Royal Forest Department and the Royal Irrigation Department, along with wildlife experts and a consulting firm.
Santi said some participants expressed concern that the Mae Wong Dam, if built, would destroy sections of forest.
The Irrigation Department plans to construct the dam inside Mae Wong National Park, which covers more than 2 million rai.
"Information will be presented for the expert committee to review. We have not yet reached a final decision," he said.
Janpen Nianhom from the National Parks Department said it was surveying wildlife and plants inside Mae Wong National Park. "We have found that information presented by the consulting firm, including information on types of wildlife and plants, is inconsistent with the information we have."