China will help Thailand develop an efficient management plan for the Chao Phraya River basin.
The assistance will be provided under an agreement signed with China during Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s visit to the country earlier this month.
Chinese Water Resources Vice-Minister Jiao Yong disclosed the information yesterday as his team began a trip to Thailand. He and five other Chinese officials will stay in Thailand until Sunday as guests of Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said China had modern water-resource management laws and an efficient water system.
“Its water policy is comprehensive. All relevant agencies are well integrated too,” Preecha said.
Thai Water Resources Department director-general Jatuporn Buruspat said Thai officials would discuss how best to manage the Chao Phraya River with Jiao’s team. He said the Chinese officials would cruise along the Mekong River from Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen district today to check the conditions of this international river.
Jiao insisted that China’s dams did not have any adverse impact on the Mekong.
“When drought conditions got very serious in 2010, China released water for [use in] Thailand,” he said.
According to Thailand’s Water Crisis Prevention Centre, 48 provinces have been declared drought-hit this year.
In a related development, environmental group WWF yesterday issued a statement calling on all concerned governments to defer a decision on any dam projects on the Mekong mainstream for at least 10 years until proper risk assessment is conducted.
The statement also alerted the public to ongoing construction related to the controversial Xayaburi Dam in northern Laos.
At its meeting last December, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) agreed to delay a decision on building the Xayaburi Dam pending further studies on the impacts of the controversial project. However, WWF recently found that land clearance and road development had begun in and around the Xayaburi site.
“It is clear that construction workers are on-site,” said Marc Goichot, sustainable hydropower manager of WWF’s Greater Mekong programme. “The Mekong River Commission should appoint a group of representatives from its council to visit the proposed dam site to monitor and respond to the situation.”
Dams along the Mekong River are widely condemned as having damaged the ecological balance in the region.