copyright@ Teerapoch Kasirawat
จดหมายเปิดผนึกถึงคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนอาเซียน เรื่อง E(H)IAของประเทศไทยละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชน
ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights
THE ASEAN SECRETARIAT 70A,
JI. Sisingamangaraja, Jakarta 12110, Indonesia
Phone +62.21.726 2991 Fax: +62.21.739 8234/724 3504
April 9, 2014
Open Letter to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)
(Re: Human rights violations in the course of environmental and health impact assessment process of the 870 mw coal-fired power plant and coal seaport project in Krabi Province, Thailand)
The undersigned humbly submits this letter to Chairman H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe and the AICHR as the Commission gathers inputs from stakeholders in drafting its contributions to the ASEAN economic integration and in reviewing its terms of reference for consideration of ASEAN Foreign Ministers. With the subject Krabi project as a case in point, we would like to bring to the attention of the AICHR cases of environmental rights violation which are likely to become rampant in many parts of the region as coal continues to dominate the energy mix of the region and fuel the economic integration. We ask the AICHR to a) initiate a consultation and subsequently issue an opinion on the environmental rights of ASEAN peoples; and b) set the standards of the exercise of environmental rights in accord to the ‘Access to Remedy’ principles of the United Nations framework on business and human rights so that where people are harmed by business activities, there should be both adequate accountability and effective redress, judicial and non-judicial, in ASEAN countries.
On behalf of the local communities in Krabi province, we in the civil society working on social issues and for environmental justice in Thailand, express our deep concern on the adverse and irreversible impacts of the 870 MW Coal-Fired Power Plant and Coal Seaport Project to be constructed in 2015 at Tambol Pakasai, Nhua Khlong district. This project will be built inside Thailand’s second largest seagrass ecosystem, part of the Krabi Estuary categorised as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Per initial assessment, at least 2.3 million tonnes of coal would be imported from Indonesia, Australia and/or South Africa every year. Shipment of imported coal to the planned Krabi coal plant would require trans-shipment at sea. A 50,000-100,000 DWT Coal Carrier would have to anchor at sea 66 kilometer far from the location of proposed coal plant, and then unload coal into a smaller coal barge. It would need a huge inland wharf to accommodate two coal barges to unload coal to the coal yard. This coal trans-shipment would add to current dredging, dumping and shipping that will turn our fishing grounds, sea grass beds and mangroves into a coal superhighway.
We are also deeply concerned about how the government’s Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) process for the Krabi project is being conducted. We have documented cases of bullying, intimidation, threats and harassment utilized by private consulting firms and state authorities during the public scoping for the project. The project site is guarded by 50 armed security officers. Some of them caused harm to community members who raised concerns in the scoping. In the subsequent public scoping report, a number of listed participants are not from the affected communities or cannot be considered stakeholders.
Information relevant to the project is also inaccessible.
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2007, Section 67, paragraph 2 issues that “Any project or activity which may seriously affect the community with respect to the quality of the environment, natural resources and health shall not be permitted, unless, prior to the operation thereof, its impacts on the quality of the environment and on public health have been studied and assessed and a public hearing process has been conducted for consulting the public as well as interested persons and there have been obtained opinion of an independent organization, consisting of representatives from private organizations in the field of the environment and health and from higher education institutions providing studies in the field of the environment, natural resources or health”.
Moreover, public participation and access to adequate information are at the core of the guidelines for the EHIA process issued by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP). However, the consulting firms merely held the scoping as a technical compliance and disregarded the substantive requirements to ensure that the free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities for the project is solicited.
Likewise excluded in the scoping are health impacts assessment; and evaluation of the economic value of Krabi River Estuary and marine biodiversity in the region as well as of the effects of the project on people’s livelihood and local tourism.
In sum, the output of the public scoping does not reflect the real situation and does not address the environmental, health and livelihood concerns of the communities.
We understand that the Krabi situation is common in many parts of the ASEAN region where coal power plants are being put up, expanded or operated. The situation is expected to worsen as coal continues to dominate the energy mix of the region and fuel the economic integration.
With the Krabi project as a case in point, we ask the AICHR to a) initiate a consultation and subsequently issue an opinion on the environmental rights of ASEAN peoples; and b) set the standards of the exercise of environmental rights in accord to the ‘Access to Remedy’ principles of the United Nations framework on business and human rights so that where people are harmed by business activities, there should be both adequate accountability and effective redress, judicial and non-judicial, in ASEAN countries.
We also invite fellow ASEAN citizens, communities and groups to bring similar cases and reports to the AICHR to amplify the case and demand for the protection of the environmental rights of the people in light of ASEAN economic integration.
We Love Lanta Group
Save Prakasai Group
Lanta Island Tourism Association
Hotel Association of Koh Lanta
Center of Ecological Building Awareness
Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Association of Thailand’s Small-Scale Fisherfolks Federation
NGO-Coordination Southern Region
Food Security Network-Southern Region
Protect Trang Group
Save Andaman Network
Prakasai Environmental Conservation Network
Public Health Volunteer of Krabi
Krabi Fisherfolks Network
Andaman Organization for Participatory Restoration of Nature Resources
Phang-Nga Fisherfolks of Andaman Network
Mae-Moh Anti-Coal Movement
Khao Hin Sorn Anti-Coal Movement
Healthy Public Policy Foundation
Thailand Coal Network
Southeast Asia Coal Network