In August 2012, 37 plaintiffs made up of villagers living in eight provinces along the Mekong in Thailand from Chiang Rai to Ubon filed a lawsuit against five government bodies, including the National Energy Policy Council, the Thai Cabinet, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) for their role in the Xayaburi Dam. In 2011, EGAT signed an agreement with with the Xayaburi Power Company Ltd to purchase 95% of the electricity from the Xayaburi Dam, currently under construction in Laos.
The lawsuit claims that approval of the project’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is illegal under both the Thai Constitution and the 1995 Mekong Agreement; as the PPA was approved without an assessment of the project’s transboundary environmental and health impacts and without consultations in Thailand, as required under the Thai Constitution. The case was accepted by the Supreme Administrative Court in June 2014. In accepting the case, the Court stated that communities in Thailand “are entitled to participate in the management, maintenance, preservation and exploitation of the natural resources and the environment, in a balanced and sustainable manner, in order to enable themselves to live a normal life consistently in an environment that is not harmful to their health, sanitation, welfare and quality of life.”
The case holds great significance for Thailand and the region, as it is the first community-filed lawsuit in the region related to dam building on the Mekong River and the first lawsuit on a transboundary project.
The following media kit is intended to provide further background to the lawsuit along with coverage of the case.
- October 2011 – The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand signs a Power Purchase Agreement with the Xayaburi Power Company Ltd to purchase 95% of the electricity from the Xayaburi Dam in Laos.
- August 7, 2012 – 37 villagers from communities along the Mekong River in North and Northeastern Thailand file a case with the Administrative Court in Thailand against five Thai Government agencies for their involement in the signing of the Power Purchase Agreement for the Xayaburi Dam.
- February 2013 – The Administrative Court deny jurisdiction to hear the case.
- March 2013 – The plaintiffs file a formal appeal with Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court.
- June 24 2014 – Thailand’s Supreme Administrative Court accept the lawsuit.
- October 17, 2014 – Thai communities file an injunction with the Administrative Court calling for a halt to construction on the Xayaburi Dam while the Court rules on the case.
- July 24, 2015 – Final submission of evidence by the plaintiffs to the Court.
- November 30, 2015 – First case hearing – Court hears testimony from plaintiffs.
- December 25, 2015 – Court delivers final verdict in case, finding that state agencies involved in the Xayaburi Dam, have complied with Thai law by disclosing basic information about the project on their websites.
- January 25, 2015 – Lawyers for the plaintiffs file an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court to reverse the verdict of the lower court, and call for a re-examination of the case.
- Thai Court Holds Hope for Transboundary Justice in the Mekong (2015)
- Court Hears Testimony of Mekong Villagers in Xayaburi Dam Case (2015)
- Supreme Administrative Court to rule on Egat’s purchasing of power form Xayaburi Dam. (The Nation, June, 2014)
- Thai court takes villagers’ case against power firm, Laos dam. (Reuters, June, 2014)
- Dams Ignite Legal Battle Over Mekong River’s Future. (National Geogrpahic, July, 2014)
- Mekong villagers in fight for their rights. (Bangkok Post, December 2015)
- PR – Mekong Villagers to Appeal Xayaburi Court Case Decision. (International Rivers, December 25, 2015)
- Xayaburi Dam Opponents Appeal Against Administrative Court Ruling. (The Nation, January 25, 2016)
Featured image: Thai Court Holds Hope for Transboundary Justice in the Mekong | Photo by Pianporn Deetes