By THE NATION
THE PRIME Minister yesterday issued a heartfelt thanks to thousands of people all over Thailand who had made sacrifices during this year’s severe floods.
Addressing people whose land was inundated by water diverted to relieve the pressure on waterways, Prayut Chan-o-cha said: “Thank you for your sacrifice. The government has already drawn up plans to provide you with remedial actions.”
Prayut said the government was now dealing with a water volume problem every bit as dire as in 2011, the year Thailand faced its worst floods in decades.
However, he expressed confidence that good water management would prevent the floodwaters swelling over their embankments.
“We are doing our best and we are communicating with people,” he said, apparently in relation to the need to divert some water into people’s private land.
He also instructed provincial governors to help find jobs for people during the ongoing wet season, as some land plots now had to serve as “Monkey Cheeks” water retention areas.
As a consequence, farmers will not be able to work on their farmland for a while.
This month, floods have hit parts of 23 provinces in the country and affected more than 120,000 people.
According to the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), accumulated rainfall from January 1 to October 24 is only a little less than the same period in 2011.
As of yesterday, 12 Monkey Cheeks in the Chao Phraya River Basin were almost full. The department will tomorrow start releasing water from most of these retention areas so that surplus water can flow into the sea fast enough to accommodate run-off from upstream.
“Up to now, our water management has worked as planned,” Prayut said.
He assured people that even with water discharges, water levels would not swell over embankments that had been erected along major waterways such as the Chao Phraya River.
He said the water discharges had to take place to prevent bigger problems in the future.
Prayut was speaking during his trip to Angthong province, where he met with flood victims and offered them moral support.
The prime minister said HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn had expressed concern over the widespread flooding and told the government to prepare action plans and rehabilitation in flood-hit areas, with the emphasis on people’s welfare.
RID deputy director-general Thongplew Kongjun said there were about 1,423 million cubic metres of water in the Chao Phraya River Basin. Much of it would be drained out to sea over the next two months via irrigation channels, so as to prevent overflowing in areas the water has to flow past, he said.
“Judging from our plan, the water volume in the Lower Basin should be manageable. It’s unlikely that economic zones such as Bangkok will be affected,” he added.
Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya said he had already instructed relevant officials to deliver speedy help to affected farmers.