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Xayaburi dam lawsuit (re Laos & Thailand)

In 2012, a group of 30 villagers filed a lawsuit in Thai court against Thai government agencies, including the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. The plaintiffs argue a dam under construction on the Mekong River will cause significant damage to the river's ecosystem and displace the lives of millions of people. 

 

In August 2012, a group of 30 villagers filed a lawsuit in Thailand’s Administrative Court against Thai government agencies, including the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), the National Energy Policy Council, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.  The lawsuit concerns the Xayaburi dam under construction on the Mekong River in Northern Laos, and the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the Thai government agencies and the Xayaburi Power Company Limited.  

The Mekong River has the world’s largest inland fishery industry.  The plaintiffs argue that the dam will cause significant damage to the river’s ecosystem and displace the millions of people living along the river who depend on it for their livelihood and food security.

Under the PPA, EGAT agreed to purchase 95% of the electricity generated by the dam.  Without this agreement, the dam would not be economically viable.  The plaintiffs argue that the PPA is illegal under Thai and international law, because the PPA was concluded without the notification, consultation, and environmental and health impact assessments required under the Thai constitution, various laws and cabinet orders.  The lawsuit also argues that the Thai government agencies were in breach of international legal obligations of best practice when they signed the PPA. 

In February 2013, the Administrative Court of Thailand denied jurisdiction to hear the case because the plaintiffs could not be considered injured persons, and the court did not deem the conclusion of the PPA to be an administrative act.  The plaintiffs filed an appeal in March 2013.  In June 2014, the Thai Supreme Administrative Court accepted the case stating that “evidence suggests relevant authorities have failed to adequately listen to the opinions of people and to comply with the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement…" In October 2014, the communities filed the injunction with the Administrative Court requesting a halt on the construction of the dam while the Supreme Administrative Court rules on the legality of the PPA.  In December 2015, the Supreme Administrative Court dismissed the case on the basis that “the defendants did not neglect their duty” and that the PPA fulfilled the required notification and consultation procedures.  The villagers appealed the decision on 26 January 2016.

 

- “Summary of the Supreme Administrative Court Decision”, 25 Dec 2015
- “Mekong communities seek injunction on Xayaburi Dam deal”, Nation (Thailand), 16 Oct 2014
- “Thai Mekong Communities Take Further Legal Steps to Stop Xayaburi Dam”, Pianporn Deetes, International Rivers, 17 Oct 2014
- “Dam Projects Ignite a Legal Battle Over Mekong River’s Future”, Michelle Nijuis, National Geographic, 12 Jul 2014
- "Thai court takes villagers' case against power firm, Laos dam", Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Reuters, 24 Jun 2014

International Rivers:
- “Mekong Villagers To Appeal Xayaburi Court Case Decision”, Pianporn Deetes, International Rivers, 25 Dec 2015
- “Thai Mekong Communities Take Further Legal Steps to Stop Xayaburi Dam”, Pianporn Deetes, International Rivers, 17 Oct 2014
- “Thai Court Holds Hope for Transboundary Justice in the Mekong”, Pianporn Deetes, 23 Jul 2015
- Xayaburi Dam page

 

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