Rights violations found in coal project

Rights violations found in coal project

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has found human rights violations in an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on a coal mine project in Chiang Mai's Omkoi district and recommended the plan be revised.

NHRC chairman Wat Tingsamit said the commission found violations in one of the two main parts of the EIA report on the project in Kaboedin village.

The NHRC began examining the EIA report last December after many villagers who might have been affected by the project petitioned the commission to look into the matter, Mr Wat said.

A company in 1999 requested from Chiang Mai's industry office a coal mining concession certificate for the site.

The problematic part of the EIA report dealt with a public hearing required under the 1992 National Environmental Quality Protection and Promotion Act, he said.

The hearing was carried out in Kaboedin village and the part of the report about the hearing contained factual errors including a list of participants that contained the names of villagers who later insisted they had not attended, he said.

A committee of experts on mineral mining and smelting responsible for inspecting the EIA report had observed previously the hearing wasn't held properly in terms of public participation, he said.

The committee pointed out that the local leaders' method of communicating with residents about the coal mining project might also have influenced decisions by locals who are Karen ethnic minority people, he said.

The hearing was focused mainly on what the local people wanted rather than providing them with correct and sufficient information about the project, he said.

The NHRC has decided to urge the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning to revise the EIA report, he said.

He said it was important for the EIA report to be revised to require the company applying for a concession certificate to have in place a proper plan to ensure compensation for affected communities in the event that the project might cause damage to local residents later.

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