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Protesters at risk from drowning
Anchalee Kongrut
Bangkok Post 10th Sept 1999

The Department of Energy Development and Promotion has warned local protesters who have settled and built shacks in the middle reservoir of Rasi Salai Dam that they are at risk from drowning as the department is to start operating flood gates soon.

Director-general Itthi Bijayendrayodhin told reporters yesterday that the department would close the flood gates of Rasi Salai Dam, built across the Moon river in Si Sa Ket, by the end of the rainy season for water conservation for agriculture in the dry season.

This operation poses a risk to 500 villagers, protesting under the umbrella of the Forum of the Poor, who currently occupy the reservoir land.

The group previously received compensation over displacement by the dam but are continuing their protest to help relatives in the Moon Basin Forum-another group of 600 villagers settled nearby, who are seeking compensation.

"We will close the flood gates as planned. Any damage to protesters' properties will be dealt with through legal procedures," said Mr Itthi.

Prasittiporn Kan-onsri, an adviser to the Forum of the Poor, said villagers would not be moved by the threat.

"Whatever happens we will not move out from the reservoir. We will survive somehow," he said.

The department has maintained that the forest and land along the river banks is public property.

A study by a Khon Kaen University lecturer revealed villagers have been using the wetland forest along the Moon river for generations because the land is rich with sediment from seasonal flooding.

An additional 315 million baht was earmarked to compensate villagers whose homes and land were affected by the dam.


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