Mekong Utility Watch

Finance Minister: Pak Mun dam (Thailand)

Hon. Paul Martin

September 14, 1999

Thank you for contacting me concerning the impact of the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand on the people who live and work nearby. I appreciate this opportunity to reply and regret the delay in doing so. As you may know, the construction of the Pak Mun hydropower dam was one component of the World Bank’s Third Power System Development Project in Thailand, which was designed to help Thailand meet a growing demand for energy. World Bank financing for this project was conditional on the Thai Government and the Thai electricity agency accepting the World Bank’s environmental and involuntary resettlement policies. In this regard, World Bank officials were instrumental in helping the Thai Government and the electricity agency develop an environmental monitoring capacity in the power sector.

In its June 1998 assessment of this project (Recent Experience with Involuntary Resettlement: Thailand – Pak Mun Dam), the World Bank’s independent Operations Evaluation Department concluded that the involuntary resettlement aspects of this project had been well handled by the Thai Government. The project was completed in 1995. While responsibility for the management of the Pak Mun Dam rests with the Thai Government and its electricity agency, the World Bank continues to review the performance of the Thai authorities in monitoring and evaluating the social and economic conditions of people affected by the project as well as the Thai Government’s commitment to adequately fund fisheries development and health programs. Concern has also been raised about the adequacy of compensation to those affected by the construction of the dam.

In reply, I would mention that the World Bank is taking this matter seriously and is discussing this issue with various nongovernmental organizations. I understand that the World Commission on Dams (WCD) is proposing to conduct an in- depth review of the Pak Mun Dam project as part of a broader study of the environmental impacts of dams. The World Bank has indicated that it will use the results of this study in its discussion with Thai authorities on steps that may be required to address any adverse residual effects of the dam, should the study indeed confirm such effects.

I trust my comments have been informative. Thank you again for bringing this important issue to my attention.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Paul Martin, P.C., M.P.

Categories: Mekong Utility Watch

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