Monday, July 16, 2012

Thai farmers fight ‘global warming fines’

By Prangtip Daorueng in IPS, an infuriating instance of a government using climate change as an excuse to dispossess the rural poor: Small farmers in the Baan Pra village of Thailand’s southern Trang province have been living in anxiety ever since they were slapped with stiff fines by the government in 2006 and ordered to vacate their ancestral lands for ‘contributing to global warming’.

Last month, the villagers, after suffering bankruptcy and loss of land, appealed in an administrative court, pleading against a controversial formula used by the department of national park, wildlife and plant conservation under the environment ministry to compute the fines and evict them.

Baan Pra’s ordeal is not an isolated. Thousands of smallholders with farmlands abutting national forests have been in distress ever since the environment ministry began enforcing the 1992 National Environmental Quality Act five years ago.

According to the Land Reform Network (LRN) that represents community-based farming throughout the country, approximately 2,000 small farmers hae been booked for causing global warming nationwide. LRN is one of five civil society groups assisting the Baan Pra villagers in resisting the draconian policy.

...“Being charged for causing global warming and fined sums of money they never dreamt of owning were a big shock to the villagers,” said Boon Saejung, LRN coordinator in Baantad mountain area which covers four southern provinces including Trang....

A satellite view of Trang, Thailand, from NASA

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