Mekong Utility Watch

World Bank urged to compensate Thai villagers over Pak Mun dam

Agence France Presse
December 9, 1999

The World Bank should pay compensation to Thai villagers affected by the 240 million dollar Pak Mun Dam project, the International Rivers Network said, Thursday.

More than 3,000 villagers have been camped at the dam since March demanding 2.4
hectares (5.9 acres) of land for each family affected by “the loss of income and food
sources from the once rich fisheries of the Mun River,” the US-based network said in a
statement received here by AFP.

The World Bank helped the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) construct
the controversial 136 megawatt hydropower project, completed in 1994, 629 kilometres
(377 miles) northeast of here.

The network said the project forced the resettlement of 912 families and an additional 780
households lost all or part of the land.

It blamed the dam for decimating fish stocks, with villagers reporting that catches had
plummeted from up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) per day to virtually nothing.

“Formerly close and self-sufficient communities have disintegrated,” the statement said.

“Resettlement resulted in villagers being divided between different locations, conficts
between pro and anti-dam forces and families being separated as people moved away in
search of additional income,” it said.

EGAT deputy governor Chanaphun Kridakoin said steps had been taken to minimise the
impact of the dam on fish stocks.

“The fisheries are not affected as they have said, because we provided a fish ladder and
we also have a program to release small fish every year into the reservoir,” he said.

“We have also promoted the prawn industry which has provided the villagers there with a
very good income,’ he said.

The network said while the World Bank contributed only 10 percent of the project’s cost,
it should compensate the villagers because of its key role in development, promotion and
contruction of the dam.

“The Bank had advance warning of the project’s impact on fisheries, public health and the
livelihood of villagers living around the dam site, and chose to ignore or dismiss the
information,” it said.

The network claimed compensation paid to affected villagers was inadequate and many
had been forced into debt, but EGAT said the villagers had been adequately reimbursed
for any losses.

“We have paid altogether about 800 million baht (20.5 million dollars), that’s a lot of
compensation, including the rehabilitation of the village for the impact of the construction of
the dam,” Chanaphun said.

Categories: Mekong Utility Watch

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