Victory for Mae Moh victims

Construction News


About 200 villagers from Mae Moh district in Lampang listen to the Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling on the case on the coal-fired power plant. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)

CHIANG MAI – A 12-year fight by Mae Moh villagers for compensation over a coal-fired power station ended on Wednesday when the Supreme Administrative Court ordered electricity authorities to pay compensation to 131 people, including to the families of some who have died.

The Supreme Administrative Court in the northern province upheld a ruling by the Chiang Mai Administrative Court in 2005. The court handed down a verdict ordering the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) to pay compensation to 131 plaintiffs, including those who have died. They will get 25 million baht plus 7.5% interest for their suffering from the coal-fired power plant in Mae Moh district in Lampang.

The victims of the plant will receive between 20,000 baht and 240,000 baht depending on the severity of their condition.

Almost 500 villagers took their suffering to the Administrative Court in 2003 demanding financial recompense from Egat for polluting their homes. But only 131 people are eligible for compensation.

They claimed to be suffering from toxic substances released into the air from the plant which they said had affected people’s health since it started in 1978. Many people had died of cancer and others had respiratory problems.

About 200 locals from Mae Moh travelled to the court in Chiang Mai to listen to the final verdict as the judges took 90 minutes to read their ruling.

“We are satisfied with the ruling although some will be paid more and some will be paid less,” Theerasak Chuekhuntod, a lawyer for the villagers said after leaving the courtroom.

But not everybody has happy with the verdict.

Pranee Inpanyo, 43, a villager of Ban Sob Klang in Mae Moh, said her family will receive only 200,000 baht which is not enough as she needed more money for treatment for her 10-year-old daughter who has respiratory problems.

Mrs Pranee’s father, Sa-nguan Wongdee, died of cancer and the pollution forced her to move out of her birthplace.

But Maleewan Nakaviroj, a leader in the campaign for the victims, said she was happy the fight was over. The verdict underlined the fact that the villagers had suffered from the Egat pollution.

Wednesday’s ruling should encourage other communities to stand up and fight to protect their rights and gave Egat a lesson that it should select better locations for new coal-fired power plants which should be away from where people live.

On Feb 10, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered Egat to turn its golf course at Mae Moh back into forest land.