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The Asia Pacific Potash Corporation has given money to villagers whose land will be mined underground.  An activist says that this is a ploy to divide the villagers.

On 6 Jan, the APPC’s managing director Wisut Jirathiyuti handed out money to villagers whose land will be mined by the company in Udorn Thani.  Landowners were given 1,000 baht per rai.

Only 64 villagers who own in total 450 rai came to receive the money.  The potash mine, however, according to its concession, covers 27,000 rai in Mueang and Prachaksinlapakhom districts.

Wisut said that the money was given without any conditions and the handout was not required by any regulations.  So far about 300 landowners had registered to receive the money, but only 64 had been verified up till then.    

On the progress of the mining project, he said that after the Department of Primary Industries and Mines finished the land survey and mapping, the company would proceed under the Department’s guidelines, and would strictly follow Section 67 Paragraph 2 of the 2007 Constitution, which requires project developers to conduct environmental and health impact studies and public hearings and seek opinions from independent authorities on the environment and health.

He expected that construction of mining plant could start next year.

However, Janta Sattayawan, who owns over 100 rai of land, did not apply to receive the money.  She said that local people were not interested in the company’s ‘set-up’ event, because they were well aware that impacts from mining activities would be massive and long-term.  So they were opposed to the project.

Suwit Kulabwong, adviser to the Udorn Thani Environmental Group, said that the company’s handout was meant to divide local people.  Conflicts among them would worsen, as those who received the money would turn against opponents of the project.

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