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To view the list of Japanese ODA to Thailand in FY2001;
Among the Mekong countries, Thailand receives the most ODA from Japan, and Japan is Thailand's top donor. In Fiscal Year 2001, agreements were exchanged for 49 million yen in grant aid, and 6.4 billion yen in loans.
In Thailand, civil society has become very active and strong in relation to speaking out regarding the impacts of development on communities. This is largely due to the movement around the Pak Mun Dam, which has expanded to address not only the Pak Mun Dam, but other development projects in Thailand as well. As a result of the active local voices being raised in combination with the volume of Japanese assistance, there are many projects which Mekong Watch has been monitoring in Thailand.
Japanese ODA loans to Thailand have financed a range of projects, including loans for mass transit and airports, but much of the negative impacts on communities have resulted from water-resource related projects.
Pak Mun Dam
The Pak Mun Dam has become a symbol of both the problems of development in Thailand as well as the struggle of local people for environmental and social justice. This dam is located in Ubon Ratchathani Province in Northeastern Thailand. It was financed by the World Bank, and it is said that it is largely due to the strong support of Japan at the board meeting that the project was approved by the Bank. The construction of the dam has severely affected the migration of fish in the Mun River and made life for fishing communities extremely difficult. Compensation for affected villagers did not enable them to re-establish a viable livelihood, leading to a movement calls for the permanent opening of the flood gates and restoration of the river.
Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project
Another multilateral aid project which has received much international attention is the Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management Project located east of the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, in Samut Prakarn Province (southeastern area of Bangkok Metropolitan Region). This project is financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and construction is almost complete. Like the Pak Mun Dam, local communities were not consulted about the plans for the project, and were not given sufficient information about the impacts it would have on their livelihood. The Klong Dan community, to be most negatively affected by the project, have maintained mangrove forests and traditional methods of fishing. They are very concerned about what will happen once the treatment plant begins dumping massive amounts of freshwater from an industrial zone into the sea upon which they depend. This case is also well known as the first to be inspected by the ADB Inspection Function.
To learn more about Samut Prakarn Project, see the website below;
Lam Ta Khong Pump Strage Project
The Lam Ta Khong Pump Storage Project is another project involving both Japanese bilateral and multilateral assistance (World Bank). Located in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, this is another hydropower project in which local communities have suffered greatly. In this case, blasting of the hilltop (to build the reservoir) affected the air quality, and nearby communities have seen a great increase in various respiratory and skin diseases. Authorities have so far refused to acknowledge the link between the Lam Ta Khong and the deteriorating health of villagers.
Kok-Ing-Nan Water Diversion Project
An example of a project in which the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was involved is the Kok-Ing-Nan Water Diversion Project. This project is a massive one to divert water from two tributaries of the Mekong River, the Kok River and Ing River, through a tunnel of more than 100 kilometers to the Nan River, a tributary of the Chao Praya River. JICA provided the funds for the feasibility study which was conducted by a Japanese consultant. The consultant completed its report in Nov 1999. There are various concerns about the social and environmental impacts, such as how to manage the soil displaced by the construction of the tunnel, reduction in the water flow from the Kok and Ing Rivers, and flooding of the Nan River. This project has been the target of local protest, as well as criticized for its shortsightedness as a way to address the problem of water shortage in the Chao Phraya River, which require a more comprehensive solution.
Due to communities' ability to organize and speak out about the negative impacts of development in Thailand, JBIC and other proponents of large-scale infrastructure projects are having to be much more cautious. They are being forced to consider more carefully the social and environmental impacts of the projects they consider financing. This can be seen specifically in regard to two coal-fired power plant projects in Prachuab Kirikan and a study for an expansive water-diversion project crossing the Lao-Thai border. The construction of the coal-fired plants and the study for the water-diversion project were both put to a halt after local communities raised strong concerns regarding the potential destruction the projects would bring.
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