The power of the people

villagers in Thailand have threatened to seal the forests in Kanchanaburi if the government did not stop work on the Thai-Burmese gas pipeline. They had earlier submitted a letter to Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai demanding that the pipeline be rerouted. At a protest rally on December 8, the villagers demanded that the government should come up with a clear decision within seven days to suspend work through the forests.

Phiphop Dhongchai, secretary-general, Campaign for Popular Democracy, which is leading the protest, said that the villagers would seal off the forests at the Chet Mit Mine, Huay Pak Khok and Rai Pa villages from December 14. While awaiting the government's reply, the groups and local residents will watch closely to make sure the Petroleum Authority of Thailand did not do any damage to the forests, he said.

A contract to buy natural gas from the Yadana and Yetagun fields in Burma's Andaman sea led to the laying of the 260-km long pipeline in Thailand. The construction work began early this year after the National Environment Board approved the project after an environment impact assessment.

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