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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More