News / Asia

    Thai Flood Prevention Dam Draws Criticism

    People protest the Mae Wong Dam, Bangkok, Sept. 22, 2013. (Ron Corben for VOA)
    People protest the Mae Wong Dam, Bangkok, Sept. 22, 2013. (Ron Corben for VOA)
    Ron Corben
    Proposed Dam Site Near Mae Wong National Park,Thailand.Proposed Dam Site Near Mae Wong National Park,Thailand.
    x
    Proposed Dam Site Near Mae Wong National Park,Thailand.
    Proposed Dam Site Near Mae Wong National Park,Thailand.
    The Thai government stepped away from plans to build a dam in a national park as part of a multi-billion dollar flood management scheme. The decision to re-evaluate the environmental impact of the project marks a victory for conservationists.

    Since the 2011 floods that inundated Thailand’s factories, scared away tourists and caused some $40 billion in losses, the Thai government has worked to deploy a nationwide flood management scheme.

    However, civic and engineering groups criticized the $12-billion plan for being poorly conceived and focusing more on improving irrigation than preventing floods. Critics  also said the government has not sought adequate public input on the plans.
     
    Despite the opposition, the government stuck by its proposals for some 20 dams and drainage systems across the country. That is until this week, when authorities said they would re-evaluate the impact of a proposed $428-million dam within the Mae Wong National Park, 370 kilometers north of Bangkok.

    Anak Pattanavibool, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Thailand, said the reversal marks an important moment for Thailand’s conversation movement, even though the project has not been cancelled and authorities are likely to look for alternative sites outside of the park.

    "It's quite significant. I think it's going to be ... I don't want to say victory but it's like we can get people to feel that you don't need to have big dams destroying parks anymore in Thailand," he said. "So that's the key message. In terms of the government back down a little bit, I think it's quite strong for conservation - the message for conservation."

    When assessing the dam’s impact, surveyors said it would only affect 19 of the park’s 894 square kilometers. It would be able to hold enough water to irrigate some 480 square kilometers of farmland.

    But that did little to appease environmentalists such as Sasin Chalermlap, secretary general of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, who walked almost 400 kilometers to Bangkok to raise awareness of the project.

    Sasin was met in Bangkok by more than 2,000 supporters. He told VOA the environmental impact studies for the proposed Mae Wong dam were expected to serve as a model for other planned dams.

    Sasin said the Department-backed assessments would pose a threat to forested areas throughout the country.

    Khun Utthiput, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, is worried about the Mae Wong Dam's impact on tiger and the forest, Bangkok, Sept. 22, 2013. (Ron Corben for VOA)Khun Utthiput, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, is worried about the Mae Wong Dam's impact on tiger and the forest, Bangkok, Sept. 22, 2013. (Ron Corben for VOA)
    x
    Khun Utthiput, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, is worried about the Mae Wong Dam's impact on tiger and the forest, Bangkok, Sept. 22, 2013. (Ron Corben for VOA)
    Khun Utthiput, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, is worried about the Mae Wong Dam's impact on tiger and the forest, Bangkok, Sept. 22, 2013. (Ron Corben for VOA)
    Former meteorologist and scientist, Samith Dharmasaroja, said some aspects of the water management scheme should go ahead, but the Mae Wong dam should not be one of them.

    "I don't agree with the government flood plan. I don't know why they want to dig that area [Mae Wong] for a pond [dam] to keep some little amount of water flow down to the Bangkok area," he said.

    Conservationists, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), feared the dam would endanger efforts to protect vulnerable species, including the habitat for about one dozen wild tigers.

    Thai protestors, like Khun Utthiput, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, say their concerns have been focused on the dam’s impact on the tiger population and the forests.

    "The [tiger] population is getting larger and larger these days, so it's not worth it to lose them and to lose the other animals," he said. "From what I see the area is not supposed to be destroyed, it's supposed to [be] preserved, it's like a lung of our world, this forest is a lung of the world."

    For now, Thai authorities say they will undertake another environmental study and alter the dam’s design to focus more on flood prevention than irrigation.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora