Civic groups slam govt flood scheme

Civil society networks in the North on Sunday issued a statement calling on the government to halt its 350 billion baht water management scheme and take into account their six-point observation.

  • Published: 21/04/2013 at 05:32 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

About 70 members of the Northern People Network, comprising about a dozen civic groups, held a two-day meeting at a hotel in Phayao province which ended today, to analyse the government’s plans in the 350 billion baht flood prevention and drought mitigation megaproject. 

The group demanded the government review its water management scheme, saying the project would have serious adverse effects on natural resources and people in the northern river basins, Somkiet Kuanchiangsa, coordinator of Northern River Basins Network, said.

In the group’s six-point statement, it accused the government's Water Management and Flood Prevention Commission of hastily drawing up projects comprising the scheme without the involvement of local people and other stakeholders or an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA). The mega infrastructure project lacks a cohesive master plan, project and investment analysis and strategic plans. 

The megaproject is divided into 10 modules -- dams, monkey cheeks (or water retention areas), floodways and dikes – and there is a comprehensive lack of details and a clear time frame in terms of references in some of the modules. 

It was not clear which agencies would be responsible for supervising work tasks under the 10 modules, for example, the Royal Irrigation Department, Department of Water Resources or a hired private company.   

The commission refused to hear opinions from affected residents in project areas and concerns from all stakeholders. 

Some modules were not needed to be urgently implemented and could be funded by government budget. The planned 350 billion baht budget was too high and the return on investment was not worth it. There were overlaps among budget allocations given to state agencies. 

Under the ToRs for the 10 modules, the commission has allowed winning bidders to carry out EIAs, EHIAs, land expropriations and finding new locations for displaced residents to build their homes, although such tasks were previously directed by state agencies. This would have an immense impact on the lives of people and their communities. 

Mr Somkiet said his group will submit a letter of protest to the government soon and will raise the level of their movement if their demands were not met.  

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Writer: Saiarun Pinaduang

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