Yesterday bore witness to an intriguing turn of events at the Chiang Mai Administrative Court. Local inhabitants submitted a proposal requesting the abolition of a contentious water diversion project valued at a whopping 200-billion-baht. The project, which initially aimed at enhancing the Bhumibol dam’s water supply in Tak, now hangs in the balance due to widespread resistance from regional residents.
The sprawling, highly ambitious project envisioned several construction aspects, including a diversion barrage, an access route to the barrage, a reservoir, water pump station, and an elaborate water supply tunnel. However, these sweeping architectural plans come loaded with the considerable risk of causing substantial environmental disruption.
The primarily intended benefit of the project was to maintain consistent water supply to the pivotal Bhumibol dam. This dam serves as a crucial water source for many – aiding agricultural activities and facilitating hydroelectric power production. The vast project, spanning a phenomenal 3,641 rai, includes territories that were previously destined for inclusion within the boundaries of the Mae Ngao National Park.
As the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report reveals, the project carries the potential to influence 29 families across a broad expanse of 36 villages, as per a Bangkok Post report. The air is rife with apprehensions surrounding the project and its impending environmental impacts.
The protest encompassed a broad spectrum of residents from diverse regions including Chiang Mai, Tak, and Mae Hong Son, along with the People’s Network of Yuam-Ngao-Moei-Salwin Basin. The assortment of defendants listed in the petition comprised of formidable entities like the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), the expert panel responsible for concocting the EIA report, the Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, the National Environment Committee, and the cabinet.
In their compelling plea, the network ardently requests the court to either suspend the project indefinitely or abandon it entirely, alleging its defiant progression, irrespective of legal restrictions. In a notable addition, the network urged the court to delegate the authorities with the vital responsibility of formulating laws or regulations aimed at safeguarding the river basins of Yuam, Ngao, Moei, and Salaween. It’s worth noting that these rivers are all expected to experience adverse effects following the execution of the ambitious project.
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