A network of Thais living along the Mekong River yesterday voiced their concern about a plan to divert water from the river to special economic zones.
"Careful studies must be conducted before such a plan is implemented," said network representative Jintana Kaysornsombat, who described the plan as being a possible threat. The government recently announced that it plans to establish special economic zones in eight provinces by the Mekong River.
"Big moves like this can affect hundreds of thousands of people. So we demand that the government include people in the planning process," Nichon Pholjan, a member of Beung Kan's Political Development Council, said.
Beung Kan is one of the provinces on the banks of the Mekong River, which also runs through China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Jintana pointed out that local farmers and fishermen were already suffering from dams built upstream of the river, and hence they have a reason to worry about impacts from other big projects.
Recently, people filed a petition with the Administrative Court to fight against the plan to construct the Xayaburi Dam in Laos. This petition seeks to have the court nullify the permission granted to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) to buy electricity from the dam. Opponents believe that the construction may be cancelled if Egat decides not to buy the power.
According to Jintana, this case is now in the hands of the Supreme Administrative Court, which is scheduled to conclude its fact-finding process today.