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-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora