A group of academics and NGOs Sunday called for the government to scrap its national strategy for water and flood management, saying it would drain the state budget, wash out local people's lives and open the valves to massive corruption.
“The plan to borrow Bt350 billion for water management would cause severe damage to the country,” the group said in a statement.
The master plan of the Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy should be replaced by the Chao Phraya basin management plan proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which would save some 70 per cent of the cost.
The terms of reference for the projects under the master plan were riddled with loopholes that could lead to a flood of graft, said the statement presented by Sasin Chalermlarp, secretary-general of the Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation.
The foundation, together with a network of academics, the Foundation for Integrated Water Management, ThaiFlood.com and Rangsit University held a seminar on “exposing corruption in the plan to expropriate land under the Bt350 billion + Bt200 billion worth of water management projects”.
The statement raised six suspicious points:
- The master plan lacked public participation, an environment impact assessment and a health impact assessment;
- The nine operating modules lacked details on timeframes and how they would be integrated;
- The responsibilities of government agencies, such as the Irrigation Department and Water Resources Department, were unclear;
- Following the 2011 flood crisis, certain modules need not to be rushed, such as the Bt100 billion floodway module;
- Parts of the budget for compensating the 2011 flood victims might be transferred to projects under the master plan, creating avenues for corruption;
- The scale of operations under the nine modules may ruin the lives of local people.