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The Nation 13/3/2000

800 villagers stage protest against dam

MORE than 800 villagers affected by the Rasi Salai dam construction have rallied in Si Sa Ket province.

They are demanding that the government cease operating the dam, which they claim is polluting the soil which provides them with their livelihood.

The villagers said that since the dam began working in 1993 they had found high levels of salinity in the soil in the dam's irrigation area. The salinity problem is growing more serious day by day, they said.

Paijit Silarak, a villager, said the tributaries of the Mool River were naturally brackish but when they were allowed to flow freely into the Mool the salinity was diluted and then flowed on into the Mae Kong River, whereas when the water was stored in the dam the salinity collected in the reservoir and then seeped out into the surrounding land.

"This is why we don't want the water to be stored in the dam," he said. "And I'd like to warn villagers who will be affected by the Hua Na project that if they allow the government to build the dam there they will have the same problem as us."

The protest march began on Tuesday and will continue until the villagers reach City Hall.


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