Granny wins B1m lawsuit for salt damage

86-year-old Grandma Noi refused to accept that a next-door shrimp farm could ruin her farm land and took the owner to court. She won.

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Noi Meepuang holds up a court verdict ordering a shrimp farming business to pay her 1 million baht plus interest to compensate for the damage caused by salinisation of the soil on her 45-rai rice field. PRASIT TANGPRASERT

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Granny wins B1m soil salt suit

Prasit Tangprasert

NAKHON RATCHASIMA : The Court of Appeal's ruling to award 1 million baht in compensation to an 86-year-old rice farmer has encouraged other rice growers affected by salt water from shrimp and salt farms to take legal action.

On Tuesday, the court's Environment Division ordered shrimp farm owner Kaisorn Chotechakornpan to pay 1 million baht plus annual interest of 7.5% to Noi Meepuang, whose 45-rai rice farm in Non Thai district was devastated by salinisation of the soil as a result of activities at Mr Kaisorn's shrimp farms. The lawsuit was filed with the Civil Court on Dec 17, 2010.

A group of rice farmers who say they have been hurt by salt farming, led by Thaworn Phetkhunthod, yesterday visited Ms Noi to help celebrate her victory. Mr Thaworn's group plans to file a lawsuit against several officials and agencies for failing to take action against salt farm operators in Pra Thong Kham, Non Sung  and Non Thai  districts.

Almost 1,000 rice farmers in the three districts claim their rice fields have been devastated by salt processing plants.

Salt production has caused widespread soil salinisation for more than 20 years, they said.

Mr Thaworn said the group intends to file a lawsuit with the Administrative Court against the governor and seven agencies for not taking action.

He said the farmers would also lodge a lawsuit with the provincial court against the salt production operators.

They say they want 280 million baht in compensation for damage caused to 10,006 rai of farmland.

"Ms Noi's case has given the group the confidence to seek action against salt farm operators for ruining our rice fields," Mr Thaworn said.

Mr Thaworn said the farmers will also petition the provincial governor, Winai Buapradit, for compensation and rehabilitation.

The petition is expected to be ready within two weeks, pending two sets of documents including a geology survey report by Rajabhat Nakhon Ratchasima University.

The Industry Ministry, the Department of Industrial Works, the Department of Primary Industries and Mines and the Pollution Control Department would also be held responsible for failing to control the activities of the salt production industry, Mr Thaworn said.

The provincial industrial office and local administrative organisations would also be included in the farmers' lawsuit.

Santipap Siriwattanapaiboon, a researcher at Udon Thani Rajabhat University who studied the impact salt farming has on rice cultivation, said both shrimp and salt farming damaged rice fields through salinisation of the soil.

The problem of salt farming is serious due to its widespread practice in many northeastern provinces.

"This problem can be found everywhere where salt farming is located," he said.

verdict – a decision by a court of law คำพิพากษา
interest – the money that a bank or other financial company charges you when you borrow money, or the money it pays you when you keep money in an account  ดอกเบี้ย
compensate – to pay money to someone because something bad has happened to them  ชดเชย
soil – the substance on the surface of the Earth in which plants grow ดิน
salinisation – a buildup of salts in soil, especially to level poisonous to plants
lawsuit – a case that a court is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or groups คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาล
Court of Appeals – a court that decides requests that a decision made by a lower court be changed ศาลอุทธรณ์
ruling – a decision by a court of law คำตัดสิน คำชี้ขาด
award – to give something to somebody as a prize, payment, etc  มอบให้
encourage – to cause someone to have more confidence or hope about something ทำให้มีกำลังใจ
legal – relating to the law or lawyers เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
annual – happening every year ทุกๆปีด, ประจำปี
devastated – badly damaged or destroyed ถูกทำลายล้าง
file (suit) – to sue ; to take legal action against a person or organisation, especially by making a legal claim for money because of some harm that they have caused you ฟ้องร้อง
Civil Court – a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations  ศาลแพ่ง
claim – to say that something is true although it has not been proved  อ้าง
process – to treat in some way, e.g., treated with chemicals, cut, etc.
plant – a factory that produces power or processes chemicals, etc. โรงงาน
production – the process of making goods or materials, especially large quantities การผลิต
widespread – happening or existing in many places, or affecting many people อย่างแพร่หลาย
Administrative Court – the court which deals with disputes between the private sector and government agencies ศาลปกครอง
operator – a person or company that runs a business ผู้ดำเนินกิจการทางธุรกิจ, ผู้ประกอบธุรกิจ
confidence – being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future ความมั่นใจ
ruin – to damage something so badly that it loses all its value, pleasure, etc; to spoil something ทำลาย
petition – to ask someone in authority to do something ยื่นคำร้อง
rehabilitation – making a system, building, etc., suitable for use again, i.e., bringing it back to a good condition การฟื้นฟูสภาพกิจการ
pending – waiting to be dealt with, settled or completed ยังค้างอยู่, ซึ่งยังไม่จบสิ้น, อยู่ในระหว่าง
document – a paper or set of papers with written or printed information, especially of an official type  เอกสาร
geology – the scientific study of the earth, including the origin and history of the rocks and soil of which the earth is made; the origin and history of the rocks and soil of a particular area ธรณีวิทยา
survey – the act of examining and recording the measurements, features, etc. of an area of land การสำรวจ, การหาข้อมูล
hold responsible – to blame someone or something ต้องรับผิดชอบ
researcher – a person who carriers out a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it นักวิจัย
impact – an effect or influence  ผลกระทบ
cultivation – the preparation and use of land for growing plants or crops การเตรียมดินสำหรับเพาะปลูก
practice – a way of doing something การปฏิบัติ
located – where something is ตั้งอยู่

Related search: Noi Meepuang, Non Thai district, Appeals court, salinisation

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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