By THE NATION
SMALL-SCALE farmers will be spared having to pay for water from natural sources under a new law, according to the head of the law’s vetting committee.
General Akanit Muensawad, who chairs the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)’s committee vetting the water resources bill, said yesterday the charge “certainly will not be imposed” on ordinary consumers and farmers who use small amounts of water.
Only commercial farmers raising hundreds of cattle as well as large hotels and golf courses would be charged when the new law takes effect, Akanit added.
He said the National Water Resources Management Office would set the rate for charges in a ministerial order. There will be a two-year grace period after the new law is enacted before the charges take effect.
The bill has a total of 100 articles. About 60 per cent of the original draft has been revised to comply with the new Constitution of 2017 and the government’s water management strategy and reform plan, which came into existence after the legislation was drafted, Akanit said.
He added that the bill had passed public hearings in 50 provinces covering 17 water basins. Later this month, the law-vetting committee will hear views from 42 relevant state agencies, he added.
He said he expected the bill to be deliberated by the NLA in the second and third readings in April.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday officially acknowledged the National Water Resources Commission’s water-resource development plan for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the plan estimated that as the economy would be growing in the EEC area, the demand for water there would also rise significantly.
“It is predicted that by 2027, the EEC area will need 800 million cubic metres of water each day,” Sansern said. “And the demand will likely grow to 1 billion cubic metres a day by 2036.”
Thailand’s Eastern region presently needs just about 325 million cubic metres of water each day.
“The region has the capacity to supply 427 million cubic metres a day at present,” Sansern added.
Under the plan, three new reservoirs and dykes will be constructed on top of efforts to improve existing water sources and enhance their integration.