The Nation



PCD fears Bt10 bn bill if it loses case

Pollution agency prepares for Supreme Court verdict, which is likely next year

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) might have to pay Bt10 billion to the contractors involved in the proposed Samut Prakan Klong Dan water-treatment plant, if it loses the case in the Supreme Administrative Court, according to the department chief.

Meanwhile, a private lawyer hired by the department confessed that he was offered Bt15 million by an unknown person to not file an appeal in the Supreme Court in another case that accused the contractors of defrauding the government by purchasing land with illegal title deeds for the plant construction.

PCD director-general Wichien Jungrungruang said he expected the Supreme Administrative Court to issue a verdict next year on whether the department should pay compensation to the contractors in the water-treatment plant case.

He estimated that the PCD may have to pay about Bt10 billion compensation should the Supreme Court verdict go against it.

He said if the court ruled in favour of the department, his agency would resume negotiations with the contractors to pay compensation based on real cost.

Previously, the Central Administrative Court had ordered the PCD to pay Bt7 billion to the contractors. The PCD appealed against that ruling in the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Central Administrative Court's verdict was based on the conclusions of the arbitrator, which asked the PCD to pay compensation to the contractor.

The PCD appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging the establishment of the arbitrator and the court is now studying the appeal.

Attractive offer

In the case in which the PCD was allegedly lured to purchase land with illegal title deeds for the plant construction, Suprawat Jaismut, a private lawyer hired by the PCD, said he had received many phone calls from an unknown person, offering him about Bt15 million to not take the case to the Supreme Court.

He said he had rejected the offer and filed the appeal in the Supreme Court.

"I think if the Supreme Court accepted this appeal, the PCD could negotiate with the contractors to withdraw the case from the Supreme Administrative Court, so that the PCD will not have to pay Bt10 billion to the contractors. But this is just an idea and another option," he said.

The PCD has filed a lawsuit against the constructors, accusing them of defrauding the government to purchase the land with illegal title deeds for the plant construction in 2004. The Appeal Court had rejected on November 19 this year the PCD's lawsuit, as the evidence was not strong enough to prove the defendants were involved in the fraud.

However, for this case, the Supreme Court might that three years for the deliberation and issue the final say.

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