Thai vil­lagers win 10-year law­suit over min­ing pol­lu­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

THE lawyer for a group of vil­lagers in Thai­land who won a 10-year law­suit against a min­ing com­pany for pol­lut­ing their land and wa­ter says he is pre­pared to take fur­ther le­gal ac­tion if the com­pany does not pay up.

Su­rapong Kongchan­tuk, the lawyer for 151 ethnic Karen vil­lagers liv­ing near Kl­ity Creek in Kan­chanaburi prov­ince, said Tues­day he is not con­fi­dent that Lead Con­cen­trates Co. will pay the 36 mil­lion baht (US$1.1 mil­lion/K1.5 bil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion or­dered by Thai­land’s Supreme Court be­cause its rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not even show up for the court’s ver­dict.

The court on Mon­day ruled in favour of the vil­lagers, whose law­suit charged that the com­pany’s min­ing waste pol­luted the creek, con­tam­i­nat­ing soil and harm­ing vil­lagers and aquatic an­i­mals. The lead mine and treat­ment fac­tory was es­tab­lished in 1967.

“Ac­cord­ing to the process, they (the plain­tiffs) should be com­pen­sated im­me­di­ately but I’m not sure whether they (the de­fen­dants) will pay,” Su­rapong said. “They have not co­op­er­ated with us. They did not even come to court yes­ter­day.”

The case against Lead Con­cen­trates Co. was first filed in 2007, Su­rapong said. A sep­a­rate court rul­ing in Jan­uary 2013 or­dered the Thai gov­ern­ment to over­see the creek’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and pay nearly $4 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion to vil­lagers.

Su­rapong said the 2013 rul­ing in­structed the Min­istry of Natural Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment’s Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Depart­ment to clean up the creek within three months.

“But four years have passed now and the Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Depart­ment has not even be­gun the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process yet,” he said.

An of­fi­cial at the Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Depart­ment, who works on the is­sue but de­clined to be iden­ti­fied be­cause he was not au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia, said depart­ment of­fi­cials will go to the vil­lage, 300 kilo­me­tres west of Bangkok, later this month to in­form res­i­dents how the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process will be con­ducted.

The of­fi­cial said the creek’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion has been de­layed be­cause of bud­getary rea­sons. - AP

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