April 4, 2022, Chiang Mai, Thailand–Fifty representatives of the residents of Omkoi filed a lawsuit at the Chiang Mai Administrative Court against the Expert Committee on EIA Consideration in the mining and extracting industry as the first defendant, and the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning as the second defendant. The lawsuit aims to ensure that the flawed environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the Omkoi coal mine project developed by the 99 Thuwanon Company is revoked. If implemented, the coal mine project will cause long-term health impacts and loss of livelihoods of the Omkoi residents. The lawsuit specifically challenges the coal mine’s EIA and aims to ensure that the flawed EIA is revoked, and a new assessment is conducted in a transparent manner and with meaningful participation from the affected communities.
The EIA was executed over ten years ago and failed to provide any meaningful opportunity for local community participation. Furthermore, the approved EIA is riddled with errors and omissions, leaving out critical information about the local environment and natural resources on which the plaintiffs rely for a living. In 2020, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also reportedly found human rights violations in the EIA report and recommended the plan be revised. If allowed to proceed, the project will deprive people of their right to a healthy environment and natural resources, including life-sustaining resources like clean air and water.
“We’ve been fighting the mine at every opportunity for the past three years. We are strongly opposed to the proposed coal mine. We used a range of tools, including the Community Health Impact Assessment, or CHIA, to argue against the flawed EIA. We have grave concerns about the coal mine project, and we will fight until we win,” said Pornchita Fapratanprai, an Omkoi community member.
Concerning the destructive coal mine project, the community has produced a comprehensive Community Health Impact Assessment (CHIA) to highlight the flaws in the problematic EIA. A group of environmental and human rights organizations, as well as experts in various fields, also assisted the community in undertaking an evidence-based approach and scientifically analyzing the impacts. The lawsuit seeks to ensure a new EIA is undertaken in a transparent manner and adheres to Thai law and international standards.
William (BJ) Schulte, Mekong Policy and Legal Advisor, EarthRights International
Thanagorn Atpradit, Land Rights Specialist and Academic
The Coalition of Communities and Civil Society Organizations Working to End Coal Mining in Omkoi includes:
- The Omkoi Anti-Coal Mine Network
- Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights- CPCR
- EarthRights International
- Northern Activist Community- CAN
- ENLAW Thai Foundation- ENLAW
- Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand Association- IMPECT
- Greenpeace Thailand
- Indigenous Media Network (IMN)
- Indigenous Peoples’ Foundation for Education and Environment- IPF
- Karen Network for Culture and Environment
- Wisdom of Ethnic Foundation-WISE
- Faculty of Law, Chiang Mai University
- Northern Development Foundation (NDF)
- Activist Network for Democracy (ACT LAB)