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Cabinet to consider Chao Phraya Basin water plan

Cabinet to consider Chao Phraya Basin water plan

SUNDAY, September 17, 2017
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More flooding looms as experts point out issues with Bt200-bn proposed projects.

THE Bt200-billion flood and drought prevention plan for the Chao Phraya River Basin will be presented to the Cabinet tomorrow, while water-management experts have voiced concerns over the public’s knowledge about the plan and opportunities for participation.
The National Water Resource Committee announced it was planning to present the plan – which will include many projects including new water sluices, irrigation canals and the Chao Phraya River widening project – for consideration by a mobile Cabinet meeting in Ayutthaya tomorrow. 
Meanwhile, heavy rains resulting from Tropical Storm Doksuri, which has weakened from a typhoon, have caused extensive flooding in many provinces in the North and Northeast regions.

Cabinet to consider Chao Phraya Basin water plan
Water Resource Department director-general Worasart Aphaiphong, who is also secretary of the National Water Resource Committee, said the committee had gathered all the proposed water management projects covering the area from Chai Nat province to Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River Delta to sustainably solve flood and drought problems in the region over a six-year period.
The total plan is estimated to cost Bt200 billion.
Worasart said the plan would involve a large variety of irrigation projects, such as designating land as new water retention areas, installing new water sluices, |constructing riverside embankments and widening the Chao Phraya River, all of which were intended to solve chronic problems relating to flooding and drought.
“These projects will not be the same as those in the previous government’s water management plan, as we will ask local people for their opinions. If we have to allocate such a large sum of money [to spend on the projects], all the projects will have to be presented in clear detail to the Cabinet,” he said.
Government Spokesperson Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the government cared about water issues in the Central region, adding that the new water management plan would create more than 200,000 rai (32,000 hectares) of irrigated areas and benefit more than 155,000 families.

Cabinet to consider Chao Phraya Basin water plan
However, prominent water expert Hannarong Yaowalers said he was still very sceptical about the new water management plan, as information about the projects had not been fully disclosed and local people did not have a chance to learn about new projects that would be conducted near their homes.
“One of my concerns about this plan is a new irrigation canal in Ayutthaya, which will affect many people due to land expropriation and the possible impacts on the Chao Phraya River,” Hannarong said.
“I would like to ask the government to disclose the details of all projects in this plan and let local people engage with these projects. Moreover, such a gigantic plan should not be rushed and there should be proper studies on every aspect before starting the projects.”
In related news, Tropical Storm Doksuri has submerged many provinces in the North and Northeast under floodwater, with residents in many areas bracing for further inundation. Many of the provinces in the upper Northeast region are still in the process of recovering from severe flooding caused by last storms last month.
The Meteorological Department has warned people in many parts of the North, Northeast, East and South regions to brace for possible flash floods due to intense rainfall that should easy after today.

Cabinet to consider Chao Phraya Basin water plan