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Rasi Salai dam: Sluice gates to open for two year

Protest applaud Artihit's decision

Anchalee Kongrut

Bangkok Post,  July 7, 2000

The Science Ministry will open all seven sluice gates of Rasi Salai dam to let the river run free for two years for environmental recovery.

"The opening of the gates will restore the land to its natural condition," said Arthit Ourairat, the science minister.

Mr Arthit conceded that the dam project was a source of serious conflicts over land compensation, its impact on the natives and its cost.

The ministry's Department of Energy Development and Promotion would spend the next two years clearing all compensation cases.

Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University, Khon Kaen University and Department of Land Development would be asked to carry out an environment impact assessment study.

Paijit Silarak, an adviser to the Assembly of the Poor who was himself affected by the dam project, praised Mr Arthit's decision as "constructive" and believes it would lead to serious talks and a concrete solution to the problem.

He also lauded Mr Arthit for being aware of the soil salinity problems resulting from dam projects built on northeastern soil which was known to hold a high level of salt deposits.

Bantorn On-dam, a scholar and chair of the committee set up by Interior Minister Banyat Bantadtan to solve Pak Moon and other dam-related problems raised by the assembly, said he admired Mr Arthit for the decision.

Mr Bantorn's panel has since the middle of last month resolved that all Pak Moon dam spillways be opened for four months a year to let fish migrate.

The panel had handed the resolution to the Interior Ministry since the middle of last month but never received any official response from the ministry on the matter.

"Hearing Mr Arthit's order, I can't help wishing Mr Banyat took the same action," he commented.

The committee did not expect the government to follow its suggestions, judging from Mr Banyat's response to its resolution. "Our duty is over. Now the matter rests with the government," he said.


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