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Letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

2 Ban Don Chai , Moo 1, Tambon Sa Ieab, Amphoe Song, Prae Province

15 December 2003

His Excellency

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Thru Minister Praphat Panyachatrak, Ministry of Natural Resources

Re: A call for an abolishment of the Kaeng Sua ten dam, the solution to solve flooding in Mae Yom River basin without building Kaeng Sua ten dam, and the propose for the implementation of the World Commission on Dam’s 7 strategic priorities in the consideration of mega Projects.

His Excellency,

The recent flood has given the new Agriculture Minister who has, after a few days of being appointed, an opportunity to revive and push for the controversial Kaeng Suaten dam to go ahead regardless of several studies that suggest against the construction of this dam. For example;

1. The Kaeng Suaten dam, if built, would be only 8 per cent effective in preventing flood, according to the study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

2. The study by the Thailand Development and Research Institute (TDRI) has concluded that it is not cost-effective.

3. The dam poses the grave threat to an ecological system of the Mae Yom National Park, according to the study of the Thailand Research Funds.

4. The study by Chulalongkorn University concluded that the site of the Kaeng Suaten dam in the Mae Yom National Park is the kingdom’s only remaining timber forest. Therefore, it should be preserved as the world heritage.

5. The Wildlife Funds Thailand under the Royal Patronage has studied and concluded that there are others and more sustainable ways in water management, or in preventing flood without having to built the Kaeng Suaten dam.

We hereby, condemn a shameful attempt by a few people to seek interest from an exploitation of an opportunity to push for the construction of the Kaeng Suaten dam as an excuse to prevent flood in defiance of all available reasons that this dam is not a viable solution.

We therefore, propose the following priorities to solve the flood in the Yom river basin;

1. The conprehensive way in water management base on an ecological-friendly approach and the sustainable model of development.

2. The rehabilitation and restoration of the river, forest, forest conservation, plantation, protection, and management that promotes people’s participation, which is one of several ways to restore and bring back the the ecosytem.

3. The dredging of sediments to revive the river, water diversion, and the building of irrigation grids to distribute water to other areas outside the community.

4. The restoration of the Yom river lowland can be done through the dredging of the canals that connected the rivers and other water resources, an elevation of road surfaces, the building of the houses with its lowest floor higer than the highest flooded level. What can also be employed are plantations of crops that suit to the soils’ conditions, the declaration of the area as the flood-prone area, the stop of the infrastructure projects that block the waterway in the lowland area of the Yom river basin, the proper use of the area for recreation, fisheries, and for the conservation of biodiversity.
These approaches are ecological friendly and are efficient in preventing flood in the area down the basin as well as in the capital Bangkok as the Yom river basin has the storage capacity of upto 500-1,500 million qubic metres (more than the Kaeng Suaten dam’s storage capacity).

5. Demand side management. Currently, the Yom river basin has about 24 large and medium-sized irrigation systems, 220 small systems, and 26 pump storage water system, with the overall irrigation areas of 1,117,465 rais. All these irrigation systems are low efficient, ranging from 35% for the irrigation system to about 57% for the pump storage system, while the efficiency of the irrigation system all over the world on average is 64%.

The management that address the demand side through such measures as the maintaining of the existing irrigation systems, the support of the formation of the water’s users group, and the provision of information to water users, would save huge volume of water, for example, as much as 101 million qubic metres, in the case of the irrigation system. This is equivalent to the amount of water consumption of some 7.6 million people in the Yom river basin.

6. The development of small water resources as detailed in the plan prepared by the Local Administration Department of the Interior Ministry. This kind of project would solve the problem of water shortage on the budget of about 3 million Baht per each villages.

7. The development of tap water production. The shortage of water in big cities especially during the dry season when the demands for water were peaked, is not only a result of the lack of water, but also due to an inadequacy in tap water production by the involved agencies. An example of this is the shortage of water in Sukhothai province in the dry season because the water production system is only 60 % efficient during that season.

Thus, the expansion of tap water production would solve the problem of the shortage of water for consumption in the big cities during the dry season. However, it is still necessary to stress the importance of an efficient use of water in the dry season.

We would also like to call upon the following :

1. Immediate cancellation of Kaeng Suaten dam.

2. The government’s promotion of community’s quality of life and sustainable natural resource management in line with the propose of the Assembly of the Poor.

3. The promotion of people’s participation in all development projects to be implemented in Yom River basin towards the direction of sustainability of natural resources and secured people’s livelihood.

4. The promotion and encouragement of forest conservation so that the forest becomes the community forest. The government should also provide budget for the villagers to look after them.

For peace and happiness of the community and the nation, we call upon his excellency Prime Minister to scrap this project in order to preserve the natural resource, the environment, and the community, and to adhere to the 7 strategic priorities of the World Commission on Dam, that are;

1. Gaining public acceptance.

2. Comprehensive options assessment.

3. Addressing existing dam.

4. Sustaining river and livelihood.

5. Recognizing entitlement and sharing benefits.

6. Ensuring compliance.

7. Sharing river for peace, development, and security.

Enclosed herewith please find ; 1. Twelve reasons why Kaeng Sueten dam should not be constructed 2. alternatives to the construction of Kaeng Sueten Dam 3. the Assembly of the Poor’s proposal to solve dam problems and water management and 4. position paper 1 and 2.

Thank you very much for your kind consideration.

Sincerely yours,

(Mr Chum Sa Ieab Kong) (Mr Seng Khwangyuen)

(Mr Oun Khanthabutra ) (Mr San Sanum)

Representatives of villagers affected from the proposed Kaen Sua ten dam

Stop destroying forest.  Stop destroying the community. Stop wasting national budget.  Stop exploiting mega projects. Stop the Kaeng Suaten dam.


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