Locals oppose PM's call to revive Klong Dan
Bangkok Post 14 August 2015 | Apinya Wipatayotin
Repair bill, risk to coast ecology 'huge'
Residents living near the Klong Dan waste water treatment facility in tambon Klong Dan of Samut Prakan's Bang Bo district say they oppose the government's plan to dust off the suspended scandal-hit project.
Dawan Chantarahassadi, a key leader who opposed the project, said she and other residents would not take the decision lying down.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered authorities to look into the possibility of fixing the treatment system so it can be brought into operation.
Ms Dawan said before the prime minister makes any solid decision, he should visit the site to get the first-hand information.
She said residents had tried their best to protect their natural resources from being destroyed by the "dirty" project since it was launched.
"It is the most fertile mangrove forest in the Gulf of Thailand and the biggest place for mussel farming. The project will destroy the marine ecological system and the source of income for locals," she said.
"We will not sit idly by and let a project we have been opposing for over 15 years get off the ground. The prime minister should do the right thing by retrieving the money stolen from the project by corrupt officials involved in the project.''
Ms Dawan said the government would have to fork out big money to fix the plant, especially the 125km waste pipeline linking Bangkok to Samut Prakan.
In her view, the plant should be turned into a breeding centre for marine animals to boost the ecological system and improve the livelihoods of fishermen in the Gulf of Thailand.
The government has decided to pay nine billion baht of the project's construction costs to the NVPSKG consortium after being ordered by the Supreme Administrative Court last November.
Penchome Sae-tang, director of the Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (Earth), said the Department of Pollution Control had looked into the matter and found the project should be scrapped as it is not worth the investment.
A multi-billion baht budget would be required to fix the buildings, especially the pipeline under the ground.
Ms Dawan said any treated water discharged from the plant into the sea would have strong impacts on the sensitive ecological system.
She said it would be better to construct the plant at the industrial estate zone in Bang Pu in Samut Prakan, where there is enough space for construction and the plant could treat polluted water properly.
Speaking earlier in the week, Gen Prayut said the plant cost more than 20 billion baht to build and should not be allowed to rust away.
He brushed aside calls to invoke his special powers under Section 44 of the interim charter to delay the compensation payment, saying he cannot use such powers to defy the court's order.
National Anti-Corruption Commission head Vicha Mahakhun said if the government uses Section 44 to refuse to pay the compensation as ordered by the court, the country's justice system will be in ruins.
The project was endorsed in 1995 by the Democrat-led government of then prime minister Chuan Leekpai.
In 2003, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry ordered the project suspended and set up a committee to investigate alleged corruption, when work was about 98% complete.
The probe found widespread graft, mainly centred on land purchases.