Former Pollution Control chief and two officials to pay 10.5 billion baht in infamous water treatment project case

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Former Pollution Control chief and two officials to pay 10.5 billion baht in infamous water treatment project case

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court Orders Vatana, 10 More Jailed Over Klong Dan

Thailand’s Central Administrative Court has ordered former Director-General of the Pollution Control Department, Pakit Kiravanich, and two former senior officials of the same department, to pay the department about 10.5 billion baht in compensation for damage caused to the state over the controversial Klong Dan water treatment project in Samut Prakan province (location).

The court order was read to the three ex-officials, Messrs. Pakit and Siritan Pairoteboriboon, former Director of Water Management Division, and Mrs. Yuwaree Inna, former Deputy Director-General of Pollution Control Department on Thursday and was reported by the Isranews agency on Saturday.

Under the order, Mr. Pakit was ordered to pay compensation, estimated at 4.5m billion baht, and Mr. Siritan and Mrs. Yuwaree about 3 billion baht each.
The three former officials have the right to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court within 30 days.

The Klong Dan water treatment project is one of Thailand’ most infamous corruption cases, in which several politicians were implicated of involvement, including former Deputy Interior Minister Wattana Asavahame, senior government officials and company executives.

The 23 billion baht project reportedly caused damage to the state estimated at about 30 billion baht. The water treatment plant, which is about 90% complete, has never been used.

The project, which, if completed, will be the biggest of its kind in Asia, with a capacity to treat 525,000 cubic metres of waste water a day, was approved by the government of then Prime Minister Banharn Silpa-archa in 1995, at an initial budget of 13.6 billion baht, but the costs ballooned to 23 billion baht.

Corruption occurred in the acquisition of 304 hectares of land for the project, by then Deputy Interior Minister Wattana, who reportedly bought land, at an average of 40,000 baht per 0.16 hectares, and sold it to the Pollution Control Department at one million baht per 0.16 hectares.

Fraud also occurred in the contract between the Pollution Control Department and the NVOSKG, a consortium of companies which was awarded the contract to build the plant.

The Supreme Court found 11 executives and officials guilty and sentenced each of them to three years in prison. Wattana was given 10 years in absentia, as he escaped ahead of the verdict.