Open Letter to Korean People: Thai Villagers’ Concern on K Water’s Projects in Thailand
1 July 2013
We, Tha Chin River Council, Thailand, live in the area to be affected by floodway project of Thai Government’s water management scheme, would like to express our concern over K Water, the company from Korea.
Since the devastating floods in central Thailand in 2011, the government appointed the Water and Flood Management Committee, which launches the water management scheme under the 3.5 billion-bath loan. The project comprises of dams, flood water retention areas, etc. K Water won two major projects, which are the construction of flood water retention areas (known as monkey’s cheeks), and flood water retention, with the budget of 1.6 billion baht. However, most of Thai people do not know who K Water is.
It is surprising the way the Thai government invited construction companies to participate in the bid for water projects before the consultation process, and before there is a clear information for the project.
The floodway project’s information only indicates that there would be a construction of over 200-meter wide water channel, with the length of around 298 kilometers, covering 7 provinces on the west side of Bangkok. This includes the Tha Chin River Basin, which is our home. With the ‘single- command’ system, project information has not been adequately disclosed to the public. Project’s initial studies did not provide any information to the affected communities. To date we do not know how many families would be affected and relocated from the projects.
Thailand is still an agricultural country. Majority of population’s livelihoods depend largely of natural resources. We do rice and crops farming, fishery, gardening, etc to earn living. Rich natural resources and fertile ecosystems are vital for local communities and villagers like us.
Since last week, Thai media have covered the issues surrounding K Water, in the way that was not discovered in Thai society. Who K Water is? No one knows the background. We only learned that it is a Korean company. More and more people were curious-- why this company won the largest portion of Thailand’s water scheme in term of budget? The way Thai media investigate about K Water, for our point of view, is a start of the process to create transparency for the water scheme, which will consume huge amount of the Thailand’s budget. We as Thailand’s citizen need more information. This is also a process that contributes to participatory democracy, as stated in Thailand’s constitution.
On 27 June 2013, the Thai Central Administrative Court ordered a postponement to the water management project until public hearings and environmental and health impact assessments are first conducted. This good news makes us confident that the water management scheme will now be more transparent, accountable, and establish a higher social and environmental standard in Thailand, in accordance to the Constitution, while contributing to democracy.
We are not opposing Korean company. On the contrary, we know the friendships of people in both countries that concern about the society and environment. For us, any company that would implement such as project with massive impacts on a large number of populations, with no transparency from the beginning, will need to experience inspection from the public, with many of questions.
Lastly, we hope that people of both countries will coordinate, hands in hands, to protect community’s livelihoods, and natural environment, for our next generations.
Tha Chine River Basin Council, Thailand