Govt to reboot Klong Dan plant

Construction News

The aerial view of Klong Dan waste water treatment plant. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The government plans to dust off the suspended scandal-hit Klong Dan waste water treatment facility in Samut Prakan’s Bang Bo district.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Wednesday he has ordered authorities to look into the possibility of fixing the treatment system so it can be brought into operation. Instead of being allowed to rust away, the multi-million baht facility should be revived and put to good use, Gen Prayut said.

It cost more than 20 billion baht to build and the government will also have to pay nine billion baht in compensation to the project contractor as part of a long-running legal battle, he said.

Gen Prayut brushed calls to invoke his special powers under Section 44 of the interim charter to delay the compensation payment, saying he cannot use such powers to defy the court’s order. The call was made by former Democrat Party MP Watchara Phetthong who said he opposed the government’s decision to pay compensation.

National Anti-Corruption Commission Vicha Mahakhun yesterday said if the government uses Section 44 to refuse to pay the compensation as ordered by the Supreme Administrative Court, the country’s justice system will be in ruins.

The Pollution Control Department is preparing to pay nine billion baht for construction costs to the NVPSKG consortium, as ordered by the Supreme Administrative Court, after the then-government pulled the plug on the project.

The department earlier refused to pay outstanding costs after irregularities were found in the purchase of land where the project is located.

The Supreme Administrative Court in November ruled on the case based on an arbitration committee’s finding, which said the department has to pay the outstanding money to the consortium for the plant.

After rounds of post-court ruling talks, the consortium has agreed to waive the interest charge of 1.8 million baht a day ordered by the court last year which would have raised the total payment to 11 billion baht. The project was endorsed in 1995 by the Democrat-led government of then prime minister Chuan Leekpai.

In 2003, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry ordered the project suspended and set up a committee to investigate alleged corruption, when work was about 98% complete. The probe confirmed rampant corruption, involving land acquisitions by former deputy interior minister Vatana Asavahame.