Court throws out decade-long legal fight over Laos dam

Court throws out decade-long legal fight over Laos dam

FILE PHOTO: This screengrab from an aerial video taken on Oct 28, 2019 shows the Mekong river in Sungkom district in Nong Khai province, more than 300km from the Xayaburi dam. (AFP)
FILE PHOTO: This screengrab from an aerial video taken on Oct 28, 2019 shows the Mekong river in Sungkom district in Nong Khai province, more than 300km from the Xayaburi dam. (AFP)

A top court in Bangkok on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to halt purchases of electricity by the country from a hydropower dam in neighbouring Laos over environmental concerns, bringing an end to a decade-long legal battle.

The case brought by 37 villagers from eight provinces along the Mekong River primarily sought to cancel a power purchase agreement between state-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) and the Xayaburi dam, which they argued had negatively impacted the environment and livelihoods.

The Supreme Administrative Court in Bangkok said the case, which was initially brought in 2012 and had failed at lower courts, had no legal grounds, court documents showed.

"The court said the power purchase agreement did not directly impact the plaintiffs or people in the Mekong basin," Rattanamanee Polkla, a lawyer representing the Mekong community told reporters.

The 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi dam, built and operated by a subsidiary of Thai construction company CH Karnchang, is the first hydropower dam in the lower Mekong River in Laos and sells 95% of its power to Thailand.

The start of its full commercial operations in 2019 coincided with parts of the Mekong drying to a trickle even at the end of the rainy season. The company said it was not responsible for the reduced river flow. 


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