The Phitsanulok Administrative Court yesterday ordered the National Environment Board (NEB) to declare three tambons affected by cadmium contamination in Tak's Mae Sot district as environment protection zones.
Residents flash ‘‘V for victory’’ signs after the Phitsanulok Administrative Court yesterday ordered the National Environment Board to declare three tambons affected by cadmium contamination in Tak’s Mae Sot district as environment protection zones. CHINNAWAT SINGHA
The court delivered its verdict in favour of 31 local villagers and the Stop Global Warming Association (SGWA). They filed a complaint with the court in 2009.
SGWA president Srisuwan Janya said the court ruling required tambons Prathad Pha Daeng, Mae Tao and Mae Ku to be declared as environmental protection zones under the Environment Act within 30 days.
Once the zones are established, the authority must set up rehabilitation measures and ban any activities which harm the environment.
"The verdict is positive for locals, as constructive plans will be introduced to rehabilitate the environment damaged by cadmium," Mr Srisuwan said. "Moreover, it will help strengthen the pending civil case."
The residents filed a complaint with the civil court against a mining company located close to the communities which is believed to be responsible for the cadmium contamination.
They are demanding a total of 3 billion baht in compensation, as they say the contamination has made it impossible to grow rice in the area.
About 800 villagers have been affected by the contamination. Officials have asked the residents to switch to sugar cane farming instead of rice.
Sugar cane is able to absorb cadmium in soil, but the crop can then only be used for biofuel production and not for human consumption.
Mr Srisuwan added the court agreed the NEB was guilty of negligence and had been slow to implement measures to rehabilitate the environment.
Pairath Yathern, a 46-year-old villager who is among the 32 plaintiffs, said he believed state agencies will now tackle the problems with more urgency.
Since 2003, when the cadmium contamination was found, no effective plan has been put in place to help their lives return to normal.
"We are suffering from a poor environment with many people falling ill.
"We still eat rice contaminated with cadmium as we have no other choice," he said.
The mining company is still operating despite the fact it might be poisoning the environment, he said. The Department of Pollution Control has said it has prepared options for cleaning the contaminated environment, including the planting of sugar cane to absorb cadmium.
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- Writer: Apinya Wipatayotin