By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
In defiance of PM's call for austerity in use of war, famous city tourist venue says it will be a failure if capital is short of water for festival.
A Khao San Road business leader says the Songkran Festival in April at the famous tourist area will not be affected by the government’s call for no “water wars” during the festival due to the drought situation.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Saturday urged Thais to celebrate Songkran this year via the traditional “rod nam dam hua” ceremony – the pouring of water over the hands of elders.
But Khao San Road Business Association president Piyabut Jiwaramonikul said there would be no change to this year’s Songkran celebration at one of the city’s largest sites for celebrating the festival.
“I don’t think Songkran celebrations for only three days will waste too much water because people usually enjoy the water wars by firing water guns, which need less amount of water than splashing water on each other,” Piyabut said. “I can assure the tourists and the people that they will have fun on Khao San Road this Songkran as always, as we still have water in Bangkok.”
However, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Culture, Sport and Tourism Department director Pranee Sattayaprakop, stated the BMA would follow the government’s Songkran water policy.
“The BMA always encourages people to celebrate Songkran by practising the |rod nam dam hua ceremony instead of water wars, which not only preserves the beautiful Thai culture, but also fits in with the government’s plan to save water,” Pranee said.
She said that while the BMA hosted Songkran celebrations at each of the capital’s 50 district offices, it could not dictate how people used water, although she asked people not to be wasteful.
Surapong Tovichukchaikul, a former foreign minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra administration, said if the government did not supply water for celebrating Songkran for a few days, it would show that it had failed with its water management and had destroyed tourism during the festive season.
In relation to the latest on the drought situation, Nakon Ratchasima’s Phra Thongkham district has faced the most serious water shortage situation in the province, as no water is left for producing any tap water at all.
The mayor of Tambon Phra Thongkham in Phrathai Huai district, Isariya Panas-amporn, disclosed that the water supply in the district had dried up and the tambon |administration had to buy water from elsewhere.
As a result, the mayor said locals could only access water once every two days between 5pm and 7pm.
Isariya said 1,400 families, or more than 5,000 people, were affected, and the water supply with the tambon administration would last only three months.
If substantial rains did not fall before May, the people would be faced with a greater water shortage problem.
Wichian Chantaranothai, Nakhon Ratchasima governor, said the province had helped 43 villages that suffered from the drought by digging 27 wells to supply ground water.
Wichian said the Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office had assisted water trucks to deliver water for consumption.
The drought had also hit people in rural areas, with fishermen at the Chao Phraya Delta reporting that their catches are smaller and less abundant due to the rising salinity in the water.
Amnart Thongnu, a fisheries specialist in Samut Prakan, revealed that the salinity at the delta was increasing because less freshwater flowed into the sea and that affected brackish marine life.
“At the Chao Phraya River Delta, the salinity level is now 15 to 20 milligrams per litre, but if it rises beyond 30 milligrams per litre, it will cause a salinity crisis and the brackish water will cause the death of marine animals,” Amnart said.