Bank sends execs to visit site

Bangkok Post 23 June 2000

By Anchalee Kongrut

Samut Prakan - Representatives of the Asian Devel­opment Bank yesterday visited vil­lagers living near the Klong Dan wast­ewater treatment plant project who have alleged corruption in the ADB ­funded project.

Villagers took Craig Steffensen, the bank's resident adviser, and Graham Jackson, its senior engineer, to see the area's condition and mussel farms that they fear will be damaged by the pro­ject, thus ruining their livelihood.

Mr Graham. said he would pass their concern on to the government and the ADB. He said he advocated "construc­tive" talks between the locals and the government to break the deadlock.

The project came under the spotlight during last month's ADB meeting in Chiang Mai, when allegations were made about overpriced land purchases and the site relocation which saw the cost surge to 23 billion baht from 13 billion baht. ADB funding amounts to 6.9 billion baht.

'As a creditor, ADB should not patronise a project so vehemently rejected by villagers. The project Is det­rimental to our livelihood and to the environment," Dawan Chantarahassadee, a villager told the bank executives.

"There has been a lot of corruption since the site selection, land purchases and bidding could all be linked to local and national politicians," claimed Chalao Timthong, a villager.

Mr Steffensen ‑stressed there were only two conditions for terminating the ADB loan – the government requests the ADB to cancel the loan or defer payment, or the ADB finds any

viol­ation of loan conditions including those dealing with social impact, environmental impact or corruption.

Mr Graham said the villagers did not yet have a case to justify cancellation. He said he was given a wider picture of how important mussel farms and fisheries were to the villagers.