East Water is ready to return the main water pipeline but the government is requested to focus on water management entirely
On March 10, 2023, the Treasury Department sent a letter of termination of the lease/management of the Nong Pla Lai - Nong Kho water pipeline project and the Nong Kho-Laem Chabang Water Pipeline Project, Phase 2. According to the letter, the Treasury Department notified East Water to return the area and assets in such project to the Treasury Department within April 11, 2023. If the Department does not proceed, Treasury reserves the right for East Water to comply with current and future regulations and to claim damages and any other money (if any) from East Water not complying with the conditions set by the government. On March 22, 2023 East Water sent a letter to the Director General of the Treasury Department concerning the termination of lease/management of the Nong Pla Lai - Nong Kho Water Pipeline Project and the Nong Kho - Laem Chabang Water Pipeline Project (Phase 2). The request is for delivery of land and assets to the Treasury Department and claims for damages along with informing East Water’s proposal to reduce the impact on water users to the Treasury Department.
Mr. Cherdchai Pitiwatcharakul, President of East Water, confirmed his cooperation in delivering the main water pipeline as requested by the Treasury Department. The emphasize is put on the primary consideration of water users. If there is no delivery plan - take delivery of the project together, the impact will fall on the water users. As explained in the letter, important points can be summarized as follows:
<>1.2.3.··That the Treasury Department handed over the assets of the Nong Pla Lai - Nong Kho Water Pipeline Project and the Nong Kho - Laem Chabang Water Pipeline Project (Phase 2) to East Water in 1997 and 1998 was the implementation of the resolution of the Cabinet. According to the complete report, the project of hiring a consultant to study and analyze guidelines and determination of benefits in leasing/managing the main water pipeline system in the eastern private sector which the Treasury Department used for the first private selection (July 2021) and the second (September 2021), clearly stated that it was a 30-year-old project and was in the process of preparing legal contracts related to the Treasury Department ending in 2027 and 2028, respectively. It was not in accordance with the letter of the Treasury Department No. KorKhor 00420/948 dated April 4, 2000 and No. KorKhor 0305/17698 dated October 14, 2015, which is about the payment of benefits. The Nong Pla Lai - Nong Kho Water Pipeline Project and the Nong Kho - Laem Chabang Water Pipeline Project (Phase 2) are calculated from the revenue generated from the sale of raw water and is a document arising from a mutual agreement between the Treasury Department and East Water. The Treasury Department notified East Water to cancel the lease and management of the two water pipeline projects by referring to the two letters of the Treasury Department mentioned above. Therefore, it is an inaccurate claim and the Treasury Department unilaterally cannot notify the cancellation of the compensation payment agreement with East Water.
<>5.Planning and process of delivering assets, timelines, including solving obstacles and problems together, whether it is the use of overlapping areas, changes and requests for the use of electrical systems, determination on the period of system improvement and other equipment can make the management of each party’s water pipeline legal without impact on water users. This includes showing readiness and scheduling the time to start commercial operations of new entrepreneurs so that the provision of public services can proceed continuously, seamlessly and without affecting water users.
- Demonstrating readiness and obtaining various permissions related to water management in accordance with the law, such as requesting permission to use and receiving raw water allocation from the Royal Irrigation Department, permission and installation of electrical systems, preparing raw water purchase and sale contracts with water users so that the pumping and trading of raw water to water users can be legal.
- Relevant agencies such as ONWR, EEC, which are involved in water resource management and the development of the Eastern Special Development Zone should be involved in the consideration of the property delivery plan to mitigate the impact on water users.
East Water adheres to and implements the Cabinet Resolutions in 1992 as well as the Cabinet Resolutions in 2000 and other relevant Cabinet Resolutions to manage water for the stability of water in the east. These are taken as the main mission and take into account stability, quality water delivery and the appropriate amount of water at all times in order not to affect water users or industrial investors in the eastern region. Therefore, the transfer of assets should be considered and undertaken jointly by all parties and make plans that are mutually acceptable so that the delivery and acceptance of assets goes smoothly and without affecting water users. The services can be provided to water users continuously without the intention to delay the delivery of the project. However, it is necessary to argue with the Treasury Department for fairness and upholding the right. There is also a proposal to proceed as detailed above to ensure that the delivery of the assets will not affect the water users. During the transition of water pipeline management of the Ministry of Finance, if the Treasury Department still insists on giving East Water handed over the assets of both pipeline projects and completed their operations by April 11, 2023 without the joint plan for delivery – acceptance in stages, East Water notified the Treasury Department to acknowledge the impact and damage possibly occurring and possibly having serious impact on the business of the water users. This includes an overview of the economic system in the east which is an important economic area of the country. If there is an argument or a dispute about such action including the practice or omission of duty wrongfully, it will cause impacts and damages to water users. East Water considers this as the sole responsibility of the Treasury Department and we are not involved in any way.
Mr. Cherdchai Pitiwatcharakul also confirmed that he would accelerate the development of both pipeline and water resources as soon as possible in order to return to be the most complete Water Grid in Thailand once again. Additional investments have been made to increase the potential of water management to maximize the benefits of water users in the eastern region. Additional investments in various areas such as pumping stations, connecting pipes help the government to save more than 20,000 million baht in investment budget. By doing so, it must be strictly under the rules and regulations of the government in order not to affect the people in the area.
“For the delivery of pipes back, please be sure that we will return it for sure. However, I would like the Treasury Department to realize the importance of water users and water management of the EEC entirely. The management of the main water pipeline in the eastern region that is the economic backbone of Thailand is a matter of careful consideration in order not to affect water users, investor’s confidence in the EEC and the public image of water management. I would like all sectors to be ready to deliver – accept assets smoothly and orderly without affecting water users as well as being able to provide services to water users continuously, ”said Mr. Cherdchai.