The Royal Irrigation Department yesterday insisted that the controversial Mae Wong dam project in Nakhon Sawan and the Kaeng Sua Ten project in Phrae were indispensable to meet the huge demand for water by the growing population and expansion of farmland.
Lertwiroj Kowatthana, director-general of the department, said the Bhumibhol and Sirikit dams have been in service for more than 50 years without problems, serving 33 million people and two million rai of farmland.
However, now there were nearly 70 million people to feed and seven million rai of farmland during the normal crop-growing season and seven million more in the off season to irrigate.
The government has not decided whether to build the Kaeng Sua Ten dam, following year-long opposition by NGOs and residents. Another study has been ordered on it.
The Bt300-million Mae Wong dam project has been given the green light, pending an environmental impact assessment.
“We regard as normal the public’s opposition to dam projects, but a public hearing and a study have been carried out,” he added.
A network of environmentalists is planning to petition the Central Administrative Court to halt the Mae Wong dam project, which the group says is one of many things the government and agencies have done to damage the public through mismanagement.
“Mistakes have occurred at several projects such as the Rasi Salai and Pak Mool dams, which are past lessons that proved authorities wrong,” said Srisuwan Janya, chairman of the Stop Global Warming Association.