Karen villagers win lawsuit against mining company - again

The Supreme Court has ordered a lead mining company to restore a local creek contaminated by its industrial waste. The company also has to pay 36 million baht in compensation to affected Karen villagers.  
 
On 11 September 2017, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in a case where 151 Karen from lower Klity village, Kanchanaburi, accused Lead Concentrate Company of contaminating their water source with lead, threatening their health and wellbeing. The company was found guilty and has to pay 36 million baht as compensation to the villagers. The court also ordered the company’s executive board to remove lead contaminant from the polluted creek.
 
The verdict is the final chapter to a 19-year dispute. According to the environmentalist group ENLAWTHAI Foundation, the dispute began in 1998 when villagers reported that the company had contaminated the Lower Klity Creek with lead, leading to deaths and illness among the villagers. However, their voice had been ignored by both the company and responsible agencies. 
 
In 2003, the villagers sued the company and the government for compensation. In December 2010, Kanchanaburi Provincial Court ruled the company guilty and ordered the defendants to pay compensation and restore the river. 
 
The company appealed the case and two years later the Appeal Court confirmed the judgement on the compensation but ruled that the villagers cannot force the company to restore the river. The villagers, therefore, appealed the case, which led to the Supreme Court verdict on 11 September.
 
In addition to this lawsuit, the Lower Klity villagers also won two previous lawsuits against the government and Lead Concentrate Company, where they accused the Pollution Control Department (PCD) of neglect of duty. In 2013, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the PCD to clean up Lower Klity Creek and to pay 4 million baht in compensation to the villagers.
 
Another case was finalised in 2016 when the Supreme Court ruled the company guilty of contaminating Lower Klity Creek and ruining the health of the villagers. The company had to pay over 20 million baht in compensation and was ordered to clean up the river.
 
 
Lower Klity villagers show pictures of those who were killed by lead contamination in front of Kanchana Buri Provincial Court (Photo from EnLaw