Save Maenam Wong!-The Nation
May 15, 2012
[FACT comments: We have precious little nature left in Thailand. Greedy logger barons cut down more than 90% of Thailand’s forest cover in collusion with corrupt politicians. What ever happened to the King’s sufficiency programme? Save Maenam Wong!]
Govt was warned: dam plan violates the law
Environment Minister Preecha wrote to Cabinet that Mae Wong project would destroy over 13,000 rai of forest
The Nation: May 14, 2012
Before Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government gave the goahead to the Mae Wong Dam project on April 10, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk warned the Cabinet in a ministerial letter the project would violate national park law and destroy over 13,000 rai of forest.
The ministerial letter, issued on March 23 and signed by Preecha, was sent to the Cabinet secretary and told of the ministry’s concerns over the Mae Wong Dam.
It said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry was worried dam construction inside Nakhon Sawan province’s Mae Wong National Park would damage 13,000 rai of forest. Moreover, the project would violate the 1961 National Park Act, which does not allow any individual to carry out activities affecting natural resources inside a national park.
The Mae Wong Dam project will be located at Sob Kok Mountain in Mae Wong district’s Tambon Mae Lay, and Khanu Woralaksaburi district’s Tambon Pang Ma Kha in Khampaeng Phet province. The project is about 300 metres above sea level and will be set in a lowland forest with high biodiversity. This forest – connected with the western forest complex – protects water resources and habitats for wildlife.
In the letter, the ministry also noted the Mae Wong Dam project is classified as a construction likely to be harmful to the environment requiring an environmental health impact assessment (EIA) following the ministerial announcement.
The National Environmental Board (NEB)’s water expert panel on March 24, 2011, asked the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), which runs the dam project, to conduct the new EIA and submit it to the panel before sending it to the NEB and Cabinet for approval.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry also demanded the RID study the geological condition of the area and the sediment supply, as the construction site will be near watershed areas underlined by granite bedrock, which produces much sediment in the rainy season.
The ministerial letter revealed the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry had not sent any official letter asking permission to use 885 rai of forest reserve areas to build the Mae Wong Dam.
If the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry wanted to step forward with a plan to build the dam, the ministry should study carefully the information, facts, regulations, cabinet resolutions and related policy, according to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s letter.
The RID has hired a consultant company to conduct an environmental and health impact assessment. The report is expected to be complete in the next three months. The RID will on May 21 hold a public hearing to seek local public opinion on the dam project.