May 17, 2014 00:00 By Janjira Pongrai The Nation 3,418 Viewed
Civil servants, politicians face claims over water treatment plant's huge cost
Some 14 politicians and civil servants – former and current – will be required to pay more than Bt21 billion in total compensation to the state over losses caused by the Klong Dan wastewater treatment plant, according to a Finance Ministry plan.
The former politicians include Vatana Asavahame, a former deputy interior minister, and the late former minister of science, technology and environment Yingpan Manasikarn.
Vatana is now on the run.
The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division on Political Office Holders sentenced him to 10 years in jail in 2008 for abuse of power and criminal coercion in connection with the Klong Dan scandal.
In 2009, a district court in Bangkok also delivered a three-year jail term to Vatana for fraud in the same project.
Vatana’s son Chonsawat Asavahame is now the chair of the Samut Prakan Provincial Adminis-trative Organisation.
In Yingpan’s case, the people who inherited his assets will likely have to pay the compensation if the Pollution Control Department (PCD) decides to act on the plan.
On April 18, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Pongpanu Svetarundra sent a letter to PCD director general Wichien Jungrungruang telling him to demand compensation from the 14 political-office holders and civil servants who should be held responsible for the project’s utter failure.
The PCD started the project in 1995 under a Bt23-billion budget. However, the project has not delivered any service to date due to abuse of authority and corruption.
The Finance Ministry expects Vatana to pay Bt5.22 billion in compensation, and Yingpan’s heirs about Bt4.77 billion.
Three former high-ranking PCD executives will be asked to pay huge amounts of compensation too, according to the Finance Ministry plan.
For example, the ministry wants Prakit Kirawanich – a former PCD director general – to pay Bt4 billion.
Sirithan Pairoj-boriboon, a former PCD deputy director general, will be asked to pay at least Bt2.5 billion.
Some officials at the Lands Department and local administrative bodies will also be ordered to pay compensation.
Some land title deeds for the Klong Dan project were illegally issued and cover mangrove zones.
Wichien has to date refused to give an interview on the issue.
An informed source, however, revealed that Wichien had already acted on the ministry’s plan.