By Pratch Rujivanarom
Pak Beng, Laos, June 12, 2017
CITIZENS from eight Thai provinces along the Mekong River are suing state agencies because they claim there was inadequate public participation in planning for the Pak Beng hydropower dam, which is being built by Laos.
The Thai Network of Eight Mekong Provinces filed a lawsuit in the Administrative Court yesterday against the Water Resources Department and its director-general and the Thai National Mekong Committee.
They maintain that the Pak Beng Dam, planned for construction in Oudomxay province in northern Laos, could have severe negative impacts on people in Thailand due to its location 92 kilometres downstream from Wiang Kaen district in Chiang Rai.
Jirasak Inthayot, a representative of the network from Chiang Rai, said they were concerned about the poor quality of public participation, which is legally required in the planning process.
The network was suing the Thai agencies involved to force them to “properly” perform their duty and safeguard citizens against the dam’s potential negative impacts, he said.
“We are disappointed with the public notification process in Thailand that has just been concluded,” Jirasak said. “The people were not well informed about the project and some important information was missing from the report, such as impact on fisheries and biodiversity.
“We would like to ask the Thai authorities to disclose this information and protect citizens from the transboundary impacts of the dam.”
Jirasak said people in Chiang Rai were worried about “unclear” plans for the dam and the possibility that flooding caused by the river backed up from the dam reservoir would force many households to relocate and inundate fertile farmland adjacent to the river.
On the same day, Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat organised the third Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) for Pak Beng Dam PNPCA process in Vientiane.
The members of JCWG, including five representatives from Thailand, discussed about second draft of the MRC’s Technical Review Report on the project as well as the results of regional consultations from the MRC member countries.
Thailand’s Mekong River Management Bureau informed that the agency also sent the representative to the meeting and brought the concern issues from local people in Thailand to present in the meeting as well.
China’s Datang Corp will build the Pak Beng Dam, but 90 per cent of the power from the project will be sold to Thailand. The Prior Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement process is scheduled to finish on June 19.
On the same day, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat organised the third Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) for the Pak Beng Dam Notication, Prior Consultation and Agreement process in Vientiane.
Members of the JCWG, including five representatives from Thailand, discussed the second draft of the MRC technical review report on the project as well as the results of regional consultations from the MRC |member countries.
Thailand’s Mekong River Management Bureau stated that the agency had sent a representative to the meeting and raised local people’s concerns.