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Almost unnoticed by the media, a group of residents from Ubon Ratchathana are in Bangkok demanding that the government end their many years of suffering from a failed dam project.
Residents of Ubon Ratchathani picket outside Government House yesterday in a renewed demand for the government to permanently open the sluice gates at Pak Moon Dam. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
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The other protest
The Thai Patriots Network is not the only group protesting outside Government House.
Yesterday, almost unnoticed by the news media, there was also a small group of residents from Ubon Ratchathani picketing nearby.
Their grievance dates all the way back to the early 1990’s when the government built a dam on the famous Moon River.
Almost everyone agrees the dam has been a failure. It produces very little electricity, only about 15 percent of its original target. At 6.5 billion baht, it cost almost double of what it was projected to cost. More seriously, however, it has destroyed the livelihood of villagers living along the river.
In the words of the Bangkok Post’s Sanitsuda Ekachai, “the Moon River was once rich with all kinds of fish which supported the villagers' way of life as freshwater fishermen. Since the dam's completion in 1994, however, nearly two-thirds of the fish have disappeared from the river because fish migration from the Mekong has been virtually blocked. Another important source of food was also destroyed when the riverside woods were flooded by the rising water levels.
“Hit by hunger and poverty, migration became inevitable. Before the dam, only 14% of Pak Moon families migrated to work in cities, according to a study by Ubon Ratchathani University. After the dam, this climbed to 63%. The once close-knit community eventually broke down while domestic violence increased due to intense economic pressure.”
The villagers are demanding that the government reopen the dam permanently, allowing water to flow naturally and allowing fish to thrive again. Their main protest site is in front of the Ubon Ratchathani city hall where more than a thousand have been gathered since last week.
Adapted by stories in the Bangkok Post and today's column by Sanitsuda Ekachai
residents – people who live in a particular area ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่
picket – to stand outside somewhere such as your place of work to protest about something or to try and persuade people to join a strike ถือป้ายประท้วง
permanently – for all time in the future อย่างเป็นการถาวร
sluice gate – a gate that can be opened or closed to control the flow water along a passage ประตูน้ำปิดเปิดบังคับการไหลของน้ำในคลอง
protest – a meeting or rally, sometimes forceful or violent, of people who strongly disagree with something ชุมนุมประท้วง
Thai Patriots Network – The group formed to pressure the Thai government into not approving any agreements which would result in the loss of territory to Cambodia เครือข่ายกลุ่มคนไทยหัวใจรักชาติ
media – newspapers, television, radio, etc. สื่อ
grievance – a complaint about being treated in an unfair way ความคับข้องใจ
date – to have existed since a particular time in the past or for the length of time mentioned
original – existing at the beginning of a particular period, process or activity ซึ่งเป็นแบบฉบับ, ต้นกำเนิด
target – a particular number or amount that you want to achieve เป้าหมาย
double – to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
projected – calculated based on information already known คาดคะเน, ประเมิน
livelihood – (the way someone earns) the money people need to pay for food, a place to live, clothing, etc การดำรงชีวิต, การครองชีพ
freshwater – water that is not the sea and is not salty น้ำจืด
migration - moving from one place to another การอพยพ
virtually - almost เกือบจะ
block – to stop someone or something from moving through or along something else ปิดกั้น
source – the place something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something แหล่งกำเนิด
woods – an area of trees, smaller than a forest ป่าไม้
level – the amount of liquid that there is in a container, river, dam, etc., which can be seen by how high the liquid is ระดับ
poverty – the condition of being extremely poor ความจน
inevitable – certain to happen ที่เลี่ยงไม่ได้
closeknit – having strong relationships with each other and taking a close, friendly interest in each other's activities and problems
community – the people living in one particular area ชุมชน
eventually – at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
violence – physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
domestic violence – violence within the home
intense – having strong relationships with each other and taking a close, friendly interest in each other's activities and problems
pressure – a force pressing against you or attempting to defeat you ความกดดัน
thrive – to become, and continue to be, successful, strong, healthy, etc. เจริญ,เติบโต,ก้าวหน้า
site – a place where something happens or is สถานที่
gather – to come together in a group รวมกลุ่ม, รวมตัวกัน, จับกลุ่มกัน, ชุมนุม