Omkoi villagers file lawsuit to revoke coal mine EIA

50 residents of Kaboedin village, Omkoi district, Chiang Mai, filed a lawsuit with the Chiang Mai Administrative Court on Monday (4 April) to revoke an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for a coal mine project sited near their community.

Kaboedin residents marching to the Chiang Mai Administrative Court (Photo by Wanna Taemtong)

On Monday morning, community members marched from the Bank of Thailand’s Chiang Mai branch to the Chiang Mai Administrative Court, where they filed a lawsuit against the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning’s expert committee on EIA consideration for mining and extracting industries. 

They asked the court to revoke the EIA report for the Omkoi coal mine, a project being developed by the Thuwanon Company, out of the concern that, if implemented, the project will have negative impacts on the health and livelihoods of Kaboedin residents, an indigenous Karen agricultural community. They also requested that a new assessment be conducted in a transparent manner and with participation from affected communities.

According to a community spokesperson, the EIA which was conducted 10 years ago without the participation of the local residents, contains many errors and omissions, including information about impact on local environmental resources that the community relies upon. The concern is that the project will deprive community members of their rights to a healthy environment, including clean air and water.

Their complaint was accepted by the Chiang Mai Administrative Court. According to Pornchita Fapratanprai, a community representative, the community has also conducted their own Community Health Impact Assessment (CHIA) in order to point out the flaws in the EIA produced by relevant government agencies.

“For the past three years, we have been fighting to stop the Omkoi coal mine project at every possible opportunity,” Pornchita said. “We are very concerned about the coal mine project, and we will fight until we win.”

Pornchita Fapratanprai (Photo by Wanna Taemtong)

Before filing their lawsuit, the group organised several protests to show their opposition to the project. On 28 March, community members gathered in Kaboedin to announce their plan to oppose the mine project.

On 1 April, a small demonstration against the project was also held at Tha Pae gate.  On 3 April, community members also staged a panel discussion at Chiang Mai University to present their CHIA report .

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