Thai court delays $9.5 billion flood management project

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 27, 2013 4:21 AM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai court on Thursday ordered the suspension of planned flood control projects worth around 290 billion baht ($9.5 billion) pending a public hearing, causing delays to a scheme aimed at preventing a repeat of devastating floods in late 2011.

A judge at Central Administrative Court said on Thursday that the projects could "pose a high risk to the environment and to human health" and that the state had a responsibility to listen to public opinion before proceeding, ordering that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) be conducted.

On June 18, the government selected four winners for the water management projects and other infrastructure work that are expected to drive the economy in the next few years.

The Stop Global Warming Association, a group of environmental activists, asked the court to order a delay pending an EIA and a health impact assessment.

"We want the government to listen to the opinion of those living near these planned projects and for a thorough environmental assessment to take place but we don't want to block the project. That is not our objective," Srisuwan Janya, president of the Stop Global Warming group, told Reuters.

Thursday's ruling could delay the planned projects by six months at least, he added.

The projects include contracts to build reservoirs in the Chao Phraya basin, a command center for water management and infrastructure to control flood waters.

Flooding in 2011 disrupted global supply chains and halted operations at industrial estates cutting Thai economic growth to just 0.1 percent that year.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Nick Macfie)