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Settlement in sight

Mongkol Bangprapra

The problem of compensation for villagers affected by the Rasi Salai dam construction is close to a solution after a minister in charge promised yesterday to speed up the payment.

The guarantee was made yesterday during talks between Pornthep Techapaibul, deputy science and technology minister, and representatives of the villagers. Amnuay Patisae, the prime minister's deputy secretary-general, was also present at the meeting.

Hundreds of villagers affected by the dam construction have rallied in front of Government House for six months to demand the government speed up the payment of compensation to them for the loss of their farmland. The dam, built across the Moon river in Si Sa Ket's Rasi Salai district in 1993, has inundated thousands of rai of farmland in several northeastern provinces. Some of the affected villagers have already been compensated.

During yesterday's meeting, Mr Pornthep said aerial photos taken in 1988 and Sor-Por-Kor land reform documents would be used to verify villagers' land claims.

The minister said compensation would cover farmland and utilised land areas submerged because of the dam construction.

Utilised land areas near the project site included grazing land and crop fields over 5,700 rai, said Mr Pornthep.

He appealed to the affected villagers to be patient, saying land claims had to be verified before compensation could be paid.

Protest leaders feared further delays in the land verification process by local authorities.

Sakda Kanchanasaen, deputy secretary-general of the Confederation of Northeastern Farmers who represented the affected villagers, urged the government to speed up land verification so compensation could be paid soon.

 Bangkok Post Feb, 11, 2000


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