Government Pressured to Scrap Dam Projects

Apinya Wipatayotin
Sunday, March 16, 2008

Article from Bangkok Post

UBON RATCHATHANI : Networks of people affected by dams petitioned the government to scrap all dam projects as well as the proposed Mekong diversion scheme on the International Day of Action Against Dams yesterday.

The Samak Sundaravej government should look into the sufferings and ecological damage caused by existing dams and come up with alternative and more sustainable ways of water management instead, they said.

More than 500 dam-affected villagers and local and foreign conservationists marched for 11 hours along the banks of the Moon river in this northeastern province to protest against past and future dam projects.

The 15-kilometre march ended near the controversial Pak Moon dam site in Khong Chiam district where the group read out their statement and held a commemoration service to mark the 100th day since the death of leading social activist Wanida Tantiwitthayapitak, who led the decade-long protests against the Pak Moon dam. Wanida died last year after a long battle with breast cancer. This year's no-dam activity was the first that was held without Wanida.

''She joined our activity every year. She taught us to fight for our own rights. Despite her passing away, we will continue to seek justice,'' said Pa Kongtham, chairwoman of the Patam, Moon and Rasi Salai preservation commission.

The Pak Moon villagers' struggle was a significant step in educating the public about the negative impacts of the dam, she said. In their statement, the villagers urged the government to scrap the proposed water grid and Mekong river diversion schemes, which include a number of dam construction projects.

''The government should learn from the negative impacts caused by existing dams and avoid repeating the same mistakes,'' said the statement.

Regarding the planned megaproject to divert water from the Mekong river, Ms Pa said the project would benefit some people but the government must not ignore those who would be adversely affected.