By PONGPHON SARNSAMAK
The government is scrapping its plan to construct the long-opposed Kaeng Suea Ten Dam, Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said yesterday.
Speaking in his capacity as leader of the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC), Plodprasop yesterday announced that his commission decided to scrap the project after taking into account the four-decade-long opposition.
“We made the decision on Tuesday,” he said.
Plodprasop was speaking at a seminar on water management held in Bangkok by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The event attracted more than 100 environmentalists and water experts.
Earlier this year, the plan to construct the Kaeng Suea Ten Dam in Phrae was still included in the 10 modules for water management and flood prevention, which the WFMC had prepared and was ready to put up for bidding.
However, yesterday Plodprasop apologised to firms that had bid on modules that included the Kaeng Suea Ten Dam.
“We don’t want to fight with people who live in Kaeng Suea Ten. They have the right to protect their own resources,” he said, adding that the WFMC was now focusing on constructing smaller reservoirs in the lower part of and along the Yom River instead.
Kaeng Suea Ten Dam, if constructed, will contain more than 1-million cubic metres of water. It is a highlight in one of the 10 modules.
Apichart Anukularmphao, who chairs the WFMC subcommittee for academic and project analysis, said the modules had been adjusted and there were only nine up for grabs.
He said the six firms that had sailed through the conceptual-plan round, however, would be allowed to submit final proposals for all nine modules worth Bt350 million.
“They will not be restricted to just those modules that are related to conceptual plans that have been approved,” Apichart said.
Meanwhile, JICA representative Yusuke Amano presented a comprehensive flood-management plan for the Chao Phraya River basin at yesterday’s seminar. This included the construction of new dams in the North, as well as flood-diversion projects in the East and West, the improvement of retention areas and dyke or road elevation along the coast of Gulf of Thailand to prevent storm surges.
JICA vice-president Hiroto Arakawa said he hoped the Thai government would consider including this proposal in the country’s water-and-flood-management master plan.
Harnnarong Yaowalert, who chairs the Foundation for Integrated Water Management, said people living Phrae did not want a dam.
“They have opposed the Kaeng Suea Ten Dam and will also fight against any plans to build reservoirs in either the upper or lower part of Yom River,” he said.
Harnnarong also questioned how the government had decided to build so many dams without first conducting proper environmental impact and health impact assessments.
Representatives of Phrae residents called on the House subcommittee on good governance in natural resources and environment on Tuesday to investigate projects about the construction of reservoirs in the upper and lower parts of the Yom River basin.