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Experts balk at General Surasak’s plan for a single Water Development Department

Oct 07. 2016
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By Pratch Rujivanarom

The Nation

EXPERTS have mounted a wave of opposition against a plan to establish a single Water Development Department as they said it will |overlap with existing agencies and will not improve the country’s water management.
Last Friday, General Surasak Karnjanarat, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, revealed that he intended to disband the Water Resources Department and Groundwater Resources Department and blend them into new single department to improve the national water management. 
Yesterday, the Engineer Institute of Thailand (EIT) and Irrigation Engineering Alumni Association hosted a seminar at the Irrigation College to discuss the proposal.
Former Royal Irrigation Department (RID) director-general Pramote Maiklad said he strongly opposed the proposal.
“As far as I heard this new department is aimed to be responsible for water management strategies, but I want to ask how one department under Natural Resources and Environment Ministry can dictate |the water management as a whole, because water management is very big issue and concerns many agencies in almost all ministries,” Pramote said.
“The water management policy should come from the independent agency, not the law of a single department under ministerial control. This is why we should have a central law to regulate the water management as a whole.” 
He said he had seen details of the proposed agency and said the structure was very similar to the RID and he was sure that the two departments would have overlapped duties which will negatively affect the work of both departments.
Suwattana Chittladakorn, head of the EIT’s water engineering subcommittee, said that the new department would closely resemble the RID and it would be inefficient spending of country’s budget to proceed.
Mahidol University’s Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies dean Kampanad Bhaktikul insisted that the new department would not solve major water management |problems.
“We had numerous agencies looking after water issues, but all of these agencies do not synchronise their works and they make the water management as a whole inefficient. The structure of this new department will not help anything, but we have to manage the water with all sciences and consider the management from every aspect,” Kampanad said.
“To achieve this task, we need every stakeholder to set up the water strategy together.” 
Lersak Rewtarkulpaiboon of the Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department also said that the new department’s policy for water management was out of date.
“I myself support the set-up of the agency, which will regulate the water management policy for the country, as it can solve the duplication and conflict in the duties of water related agencies,” Lersak said.
However, he stressed that the |policy planning of the new department, as he had seen, was very |outmoded as it aimed to centralise water management by implementing a top-down policy. 
“A good water management |policy should be bottom-up, because the water situation is diverse between each water basin, thus it needs |different policies,” he said.

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