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Egat to close sluice gates on June 16

Dusit Singkhiri
Bangkok Post
May 25, 2002

Thailand’s Electricity Generating Authority will close the eight sluice gates of Pak Moon dam on June 16, 2002. The Thai cabinet told Egat to open the gates last April, 2001 for four months followed by a one year extension in December, 2001.

Suvit Phumwiangsri, assistant director of Egat’s hydroelectric plant in the Northeast, said the gates had been open for almost one year. On April 17 last year, cabinet told Egat to open the gates for four months. On December 11 last year it extended that to one year.

Protesters had said opening the gates would restore ecology allegedly damaged by the dam. An Egat source said the move had affected power production. Egat was forced to buy power from Huay Hoh dam in Laos to cope with rising demand. With the gates open, the agency had also lost opportunities to use water for making power.

Meanwhile, Ubon Ratchathani University is expected to finish its one-year study on the social, environmental and economic impacts of cabinet’s move in two to four months. Rector Paithoon Ingkhasuwan said researchers had to look into the impact on the livelihoods of residents of an open-gate dam, and this took time.

Sources said initial results showed that keeping the gates open enabled most fishermen to catch more fish. However, villagers who reared fish in kachang or floating baskets found their stocks were badly affected. The survey also found that open gates restored ecology and increased the number of plant species.

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