Cabinet approves cash aid for affected fish farmers

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
21 March 2007, at 12:00am

THAILAND - The Cabinet yesterday approved a Bt50 million budget to provide financial relief to people affected by water pollution in Angthong and Ayutthaya.

A large number of fish have recently been found dead in the two provinces after the Chao Phraya River became heavily polluted. Most of the fish belonged to local fish farmers, who have suffered financially as a consequence.

"We borrowed money to raise the fish. Now they are gone, we have no means to repay our debts," a fish farmer who identified himself only as Boonrawd said.

The number of fish farmers affected by the pollution has been put at 231.

To help them, the Cabinet yesterday agreed to pay Bt257 per affected square metre in financial relief to the fish farmers, but no individual would receive more than Bt20,560.

"The payments will be made by this Friday," deputy government spokeswoman Netpreeya Chumchaiyo said yesterday.

She said the financial relief would come from the budget earmarked to help disaster victims.

Moreover, she added that the Cabinet also considered the Interior Ministry's request that the government advance money to the fish farmers entitled to receive compensation from polluters based on actual damage to their livelihoods.

The size of fish baskets and the time spent raising the fish would be taken into consideration for compensation calculations.

"The Natural Resource and Environment Ministry has been instructed to explore legal means as to whether the government can advance the money and sue the polluters for compensation later," Netpreeya said.

She said if there were legal precedents to support the idea, the government would advance the money.

"If not, the Cabinet will look into other options next week," she said.

Source: The Nation