The Green Move Thailand group is set to hold a demonstration in Bangkok on October 9 in a bid to collect 100,000 signatures to form a petition against the construction project. Representatives of Khon Kaen communities have recently held a protest in the province to voice opposition over the plan, citing studies that point to the dam causing a massive loss of fertile land.
Last week, a poll released by Assumption University showed that the majority of people surveyed did not believe the construction of the Mae Wong Dam will solve flood problems.
Nearly 60 percent of respondents expressed doubt whether the dam will be able to tackle floods and an overwhelming 81.1 percent of those surveyed believed the project should be further reviewed and put on hold while additional studies are conducted.
76.3 percent said that the construction would exacerbate the issue of animal poaching and will have adverse impact on the biodiversity in the area. Nearly 70 percent also added that international organizations should be allowed to weigh in on the environmental impact the dam will have on nearby natural reserves.
The government decided to put on the back burner the proposal by the Royal Irrigation Department to build the controversial dam in light of intensifying protests from environmentalists.
It will instead conduct a new study of the dam as the RID’s proposal and environment and health impact assessment (EHIA) study was not accepted by conservationists.
Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, in his capacity as Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC) chairman, said the dam would be repurposed as part of a flood prevention measure, which would reduce the construction cost to less than 13 billion baht.
The Yingluck Shinawatra government has been determined to revive the Mae Wong dam project as part of its 350-billion-baht water management plan. It has claimed that only 2% of the nearly 900 square km of fertile forest in which the dam will be built will be affected. But conservationists have argued that this 2% is the heart of Mae Wong National Park that serves as a habitat for tigers and other wildlife.