The Central Administrative Court will hand down verdicts today and tomorrow on two important cases which could set important precedents on whether people will be able to gain access to confidential business information about projects affecting their communities.
Gulf JP UT Co and Power Generation Supply Co filed complaints with the court in 2009, asking the court to nullify the decision made by the Office of the Official Information Commission (OIC) and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) ordering the companies to reveal power purchase agreements they made with Egat.
The OIC and Egat made their resolution after the People's Network against Power Plant Projects petitioned Egat to reveal the power deal signed with the two companies.
The network is protesting against Gulf JP UT Co's 1,600-megawatt natural gas-fuelled power plant in Bang Khla district of Chachoengsao and Power Generation Supply's 1,600mW power plant in Nong Saeng district of Saraburi.
They fear that the power plants will have a negative effect on their localities, which are prime agricultural areas.
The OIC and Egat agreed in 2008 that the power purchase agreements for the two projects should be revealed to affected residents, prompting the two power generation firms to lodge the complaints with the Administrative Court.
The firms claimed that revealing the power purchase agreements and other related deals will negatively affect the country's power security.
They also said the trade deals are considered confidential information and protected by law.
The court later issued an injunction on the agreement revelation order and also listed the People's Network as an interpleader as they are stakeholders in the case.
The court will rule on the Gulf JP UT Co case today and on the Power Generation Supply case tomorrow.
Songkrant Pongboonjun, a lawyer who works with Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants (Enlaw) and who represents the network, said the verdicts would set precedents on whether people affected by power plant projects will be able to exercise their right of gain access to information about the projects.
"People affected by these mega-projects should have the right to know the details about the projects that will be built in their neighbourhoods," said Mr Songkran.
Trirat Saengmanee, a protest leader campaigning against the Power Generation Supply power plant in Saraburi, said the verdict was very important to the villagers who have been trying to protect their communities from power plant pollution.
He said the more information the people have about the power plant, the better informed they will be about the likely impacts on their livelihood.
About the author
- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin