The Pollution Control Department (PCD) has asked for legal advice on whether it should hold back paying 9.6 billion baht in a compensation dispute to the NVPSKG consortium, which built the Klong Dan waste water plant, until the Supreme court reaches a verdict on a related case.
Department chief Wichien Jungrungruang said he is waiting for a reply. The Supreme Administrative Court ordered the department last month to pay the consortium in 90 days for refusing to accept Klong Dan waste water treatment facility, which the firm was contracted to build in 1997.
Since a separate corruption trial is still pending in the Supreme Court, Mr Wichien said his agency would need to hear from the Office of the Attorney-General about whether it should proceed with the payment immediately or wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict first.
“We want to get the answer as soon as possible. But I understand the request must be considered by a committee, which might take some time. The answer will help us decide what we should do next,” he said.
The court in its ruling last month said the department must pay the damages as ruled by an arbitration committee. The PCD hired NVPSKG Joint Venture to design and construct the waste water treatment facility worth 22.9 billion baht on Aug 20, 1997. The project was mired in irregularities, including the sale of land to the department at a highly inflated price.
In 2003, Apichai Chawacharoenpan, then director-general of the PCD, decided to scrap the contract and accused the firm of contract fraud. The consortium filed a petition with the arbitration committee on Sept 4, 2003, demanding compensation worth 4.9 billion baht and US$31 million (1 billion baht).
In 2011, the committee ruled in the consortium’s favour, ordering the department to pay the joint venture damages as well as 7.5% in interest calculated from Feb 28, 2003, amounting to 9 billion baht. The department refused to pay and took the case to the Administrative Court.
Klong Dan’s criminal case lawyer Suprawat Jaisamut previously suggested the department should consult with the Office of the Attorney-General to suspend the payment until the final verdict on the corruption case was reached. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in the next year.