Phrae villagers protest against 'unnecessary' dam

Phrae villagers protest against 'unnecessary' dam

Residents of tambon Sa-ieb in Phrae yesterday mounted a fierce campaign against the government's plan to build the controversial Kang Sua Ten dam in Mae Yom National Park.

Several hundred villagers gathered in front of tambon Sa-ieb's local administration office in Song district yesterday to rally against the plan to build the dam, which residents fear will harm the environment and inundate their communities.

The protesters burnt effigies of Deputy Agricultural Minister Thamanat Prompow, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, Palang Pracharath Party MP Veerakorn Kamprakorb and an irrigation department official by the name of Pornmongkol Chidchob, for their role in reviving the controversial project.

"We demand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha remove the Kang Sua Ten dam, as well as the Upper Yom and Lower Yom dams from the Chao Phraya River Delta 2040 masterplan, which it had approved earlier," said Somming Muengrong, a villager who headed the local campaign against the dam. "They are unnecessary and will do little to solve the area's water problem."

The campaign was launched after Capt Thamanat said during a visit to Sukhothai last Thursday that he planned to revive plans to build the Kang Sua Ten dam on the upper reaches of the Yom River in Phrae.

The protesting villagers also demanded the government stick to the "Sa-Ieb Model", a water management plan developed by local villagers along with conservationists and government officials.

The model envisions construction of small-scale water management projects along the Yom River and its tributaries, such as small ponds and irrigation canals, to control floods and mitigate drought, as opposed to major dams and reservoirs.

Residents have been protesting against plans to build the dam for over three decades.

Kang Sua Ten dam was first proposed almost four decades ago as a hydroelectric dam, but the eight-billion-baht project immediately faced resistance, which forced the state to search for other water management solutions.

The dam was re-envisioned as a reservoir a few years after it was scrapped, but it faced similar resistance, which forced the government to shelve the project.

Kang Sua Ten dam is planned on a 40,000-rai land which cuts through Mae Yom National Park and Thailand's largest source of golden teak wood.

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