THAILAND: NGOs protest against environmental impacts of Asian Development Bank projects

More than 1,000 people met in the Thai city of Chiang Mai prior to the annual general meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to protest against ADB projects and to highlight the bank's undemocratic methods of operating.

The meeting of NGO representatives and concerned citizens, called The People’s Forum, led to a final statement requesting that Thailand withdraw from all ABD loan conditionalities that threaten Thai sovereignty and to cancel construction of a wastewater treatment plant and an agricultural sector loan.

“The ADB promotes and imposes development based on a narrow and prescriptive economic growth model, ignoring the many well-documented failures of this model and its inability to ensure ecologically sustainable or socially equitable development,” reads the forum’s closing statement.

The People’s Forum accuses the ADB of “violating citizens’ rights to use and manage local resources, polluting and destroying environments, and undermining citizens’ food and livelihood security”.

One Thai ADB project that came under particular criticism from The People’s Forum is the Samut Prakarn Wastewater Treatment Project, which is planned for the Bang Bo district of the Samut Prakarn province. The forum alleges that the wastewater treatment plant would “release more than 500,000m3 of wastewater contaminated with heavy metals and other toxic inorganic effluents emissions into one of the most productive fishing grounds in the Gulf of Thailand”.

The ADB-funded Agriculture Sector Programme for Thailand is also the target of The People’s Forum criticisms. “The conditionalities of this loan would result in policy and sectoral reforms that would benefit large-scale industrial agriculture, degrade the genetic diversity of food crops, and undermine the means of livelihood security and self-reliance of small-scale farmers who are the primary food producers for Thai society,” argues the forum.

Briefings by the People’s Forum on ADB projects in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand – several relate to dams and wastewater treatment facilities – are available on the organisation’s website.

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