Government mulls appeal on water verdict

The government will decide on Friday whether to appeal against a Central Administrative Court order to put the water management project on hold until public hearings are conducted.

Speaking after the court's ruling on Thursday, Tongthong Chandrangsu, PM's Office permanent secretary, said that the committee selecting firms to undertake the project would hold a meeting on Friday.

Legal experts will examine the details of the court's order before advising the committee, which will either forward the case to the Supreme Administrative Court or organise public hearings into the project, he added.

Mr Tongthong insisted that the 350-billion-baht scheme will go ahead as planned, arguing that the court's decision was simply aimed at making sure the processing of the project was handled properly. He refused to calculate the potential financial damage in the wake of the ruling.

Mr Tongthong chairs the selection committee responsible for picking the winning firms and drafting the terms of reference for the bid. His panel and the Water and Flood Management Committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, were named by the Stop Global Warming Association, and 45 residents of Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya provinces as defendants in the case.

The lower court issued an order to temporarily put the water project on hold, but did not order its cancellation as requested in the plaintiffs' petition.

After examining all submitted testimony and reports from both sides, the court ordered the government to conduct public hearings on all nine modules of the project, as required by the constitution. Following public hearings, the projects would be allowed to go ahead.

The judgment delivered by the court on Thursday is in line with a suggestion made on Tuesday by Wassana Malithong, an Administrative Court judge who also serves as spokeswoman for one of the plaintiffs.

Mr Srisuwan said after the ruling that the court's decision meant the government should listen to the voices of the public before going ahead with big projects.

Before hearing the court's decision, Mr Srisuwan explained that the government could in fact proceed with parts of the projects, if it completed environment impact assessment (EIA) and health impact assessment (HIA) reports.

He said the EIA and HIA reports might take about two years to complete.

The government on June 10 selected ITD Power China Joint Venture, Korea Water Resources Corp (K-Water), Summit SUT Joint Venture and Loxley Joint Venture to undertake its water megaproject.

The project has been designed to prevent the recurring of flooding which severely damaged the country two years ago, particularly the central provinces and Bangkok.

Related search: Central Administrative Court, ruling, water management project, delay, Stop Global Warming Association

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Writer: Paritta Wangkiat
Position: Reporter