Khon Kaen ‘water war’ fear


Concern as factory owned by Red Bull moves to lease more land.

CONCERNS ARE growing that a dispute over water will erupt in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen after a factory owned by Red Bull becomes operational. 
“If a proper plan is not drawn up now, I can tell you that a war over water will definitely break out here,” Songwut Kijworawut, director of the Nong Wai irrigation project in Khon Kaen, said yesterday. 
The construction of the factory – owned by KTD Property Development, a subsidiary of the Red Bull Group and owned by Saravoot Yoovidhya, Red Bull’s CEO – is now ongoing in Khon Kaen without local opposition.
However, residents have recently complained about the firm’s move to lease 31 rai (five hectares) of nearby public land for water storage to manufacture alcohol-free beverages.

Khon Kaen ‘water war’ fear
“There will not be enough water for everyone during the dry season,” Songwut commented. 
He said the Nong Wai Dyke would have to be upgraded for more capacity, otherwise a water shortage in the area would lead to conflicts. 
This dyke is downstream from the major Ubolratana Dam. 
Worawit Raweenipapong, director of a hydropower plant connected to the dam, said the factory was very close to a sluice gate. “I am really worried,” he said. 
Worawit and Songwut have also expressed concerns about wastewater from the factory. 
In a related incident, Lands Department’s deputy director-general Songwut Saikaew yesterday inspected a public-land plot that KTD Property Development previously leased. The lease has drawn opposition from residents. 
“We are not against the factory itself. But we can’t agree with the lease after several big trees on the plot were removed,” a local resident said. 
Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda has ordered a probe into the lease, which he approved based on information provided by the Lands Department.
Anupong said if local residents opposed the lease, he would be ready to cancel it.