» 10/15/2014, 00.00
Bangkok, activists and citizens file suit to stop Xayaburi dam
The inhabitants of the eight provinces file injunction suit with Administrative judge. They aim to stop construction of the controversial mega-plant, to be built in Laotian territory. For the Court, the people "have the right" to defend the environment and their livelihoods, which must be "balanced" with economic development.
/ Agencies) - The residents of the eight provinces of Thailand bordering the Mekong River have filed for a court to stop construction of the Xayaburi dam
in the lower part of the reservoir.
The members of the Network of
Thai People have asked
the Administrative Court to suspend a power-purchase agreement (PPA) signed by
the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to buy 95% of the electricity
to be generated by the hydroelectric dam that has stoked environmental and
economic concern from Vietnam and Cambodia.
On 24 June, the judges allowed
an appeal by the inhabitants of 37
villages, which call on the Egat to respect the rights of citizens and the Constitution of 1997. This includes
hearings, as well as health and environmental impact assessments before signing
power purchase deals.
Welcoming the proceedings, the
Administrative Court emphasized that the people "have every
right" to defend their environment
and way of life, which must be "balanced" with a healthy economic
court also cited the 1995 Mekong Agreement which requires the public to be
notified about projects affecting the current in the Mekong River before they
Rattanamanee Polkla, a lawyer
and member of the Save the Mekong coalition, made
up of activists, citizens
and experts, recalls the great "risks" associated with the system
and hopes construction will be
halted pending "until the final decision of the
judges". Moreover, the coalition claimed Egat has "grossly
overestimated" the amount of electricity Thailand needs, and "has not
studied potentially cheaper or greener electricity generating options."
The US$ 3.5 billion,
1.26-megawatt hydropower project is in its early phase with less than 10 per
cent complete. Although located in a remote area in northern Laos, the dam has
already displaced more than 2,100 villagers. Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong River
Commission (MRC) have called for a ten-year moratorium without success.
Meanwhile, there has been a 300,000 tonnes drop in fish catch. The Mekong River
starts in the Tibetan plateau, flows through China's Yunnan province until it
reaches Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. About 65 million people
live along the river, relying on fish farms and the natural fishery, which is
worth an estimated US$ 3 billion. Considered the second most important river in
the world in terms of biodiversity, the 4,880-km long Mekong is threatened by a
number of projects involving dams and hydroelectric power plants.
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