The ongoing environmental degradation of the Bangkok Metropolitan region has led the Thai government to invest in projects that aim to decrease pollution in the region. The Samut Prakarn Wastewater Management project is intended to improve the environmental quality and public health in the Samut Prakarn Province in Thailand through the establishment of i) wastewater collection and effluent monitoring systems; ii) a central wastewater treatment plant; iii) industrial pollution prevention and clean technology transfer programs; and iv) institutional capacity building for government agencies responsible for wastewater management. The Thai government requested a total of US $230 million from the Asian Development Bank and US $ 7 million from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for this project, with the Thai government covering the remaining $ 407 million. The executing agency for the project is the Thai government’s Pollution Control Department.
Originally designed to be comprised of two treatment plants in the industrial zone, the plant design and location were subsequently changed to include a single plant in the fishing village of Klong Dan, a location 20km east of the industrial zone. Under the changed site and design, the project poses adverse environmental and social impacts that will affect 60,000 villagers living near the project location.
Local communities allege that major corruption was involved in the purchase of land for the project. The site in Klong Dan was purchased at an artificially high price. All 17 plots comprising the project area were sold by a single company, which suggests deliberate coordination and planning in the land procurement. Affected communities filed an inspection request, which was approved in July 2001, when it became evident that the ADB had violated its own policies during project preparation and implementation. This became the first inspection that the ADB carried out. Although the Inspection Panel’s investigation confirmed policy violations had occurred, its recommendations were perceived to be weak by independent observers. Moreover, the ADB has failed to take adequate action toward implementing even these recommendations.