|

Flood projects won't finish before rains Budget problems delay launch of prevention plans

State agencies are running out of time to complete short-term flood prevention plans before the arrival of the rainy season in three months.



Niwatchai Khampee, deputy chief of the Department of Water Resources, admitted some projects should have started late last year but have been delayed because of budget problems.

The current budget which was recently approved in parliament has not yet been declared in the Royal Gazette, which means the government cannot use Treasury money to fund the projects.

The government has allocated 10.7 billion baht for 581 projects under its short-term plan to prevent flooding.

Most of the projects involve dredging canals, rivers and ponds, repairing irrigation networks and sluice gates, and raising road surfaces so they can also serve as flood barriers.

"We now hope we can start working early next month. If everything goes as planned, we may be able to complete the works within the three-month deadline given by the government," he said.

The Department of Water Resources is responsible for flood prevention work for rivers and canals in western Bangkok.

That includes Klong Bang Sai, Klong Bodhi, Klong Kwai, Klong Khun Si Burirat, Klong Bang Ku Wieang and Klong Soi. The dredging of 23 canals which pass through Bangkok will be carried out by City Hall.

Mr Niwatchai admitted his agency is having problems dredging the six Bangkok canals under its responsibility.

He said land along the canals is fully occupied and he has yet to figure out how to bring heavy machinery into the areas and how to bring waste out.

And the water level in the canals is still high as a result of new discharge from the major dams in the north.

The water volume at Bhumibol dam in Tak was still 7 billion cubic metres as of Feb 16, or 52% of its full capacity. The water volume at Sirikit dam in Uttaradit was recorded at 6.7 billion cubic metres, or 65% of its capacity. The government has instructed the two dams to lower the water storage to 45% of their capacity by the end of April.

There has been concern that unusually high rainfall since early this year might cause a recurrence of widespread flooding.

The Meteorological Department predicted this year's average rainfall will be about 20% higher than that of the country's 30-year average.

It attributed the unusual rain to the La Nina phenomenon which still exerts an influence over the country, and the collision of the high pressure wedge from India and China and the low pressure trough from the South China Sea over the Central Plains.

Last year's historic flood was caused by the same factors, the department said.

It added, however, that last year's rainfall during the same period was 40% above the 30-year average.

"We have seen a higher volume of rainfall since January.

"The trend is likely to be the same for the hot season when we can see more rain and lower temperatures," said Somchai Baimoung, deputy chief of the Meteorological Department.

Meanwhile, the Department of Royal Irrigation has allocated more than 5 billion baht to fix and improve all irrigation systems under its remit.

Chalit Damrongsak, chief of the Royal Irrigation Department, said much work has already been done.

He said the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will finally complete its plan for water retention zones by the end of this month and submit it to the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management for consideration.

The plan covers zone location and compensation for people to be affected.

Some 1,800 square kilometres of land in the upper Chao Praya River and 1,739 square kilometres in the lower river will be slated for water retention zones.

Mr Chalit said local people living in Bang Ban in Ayutthaya province, which is one of eight water retention zones, have agreed with the government's plan. The group has demanded, however, they be allowed to grow two rice crops each year and that the government must generously compensate them for the use of their land. This would include state support to build new homes. Mr Chalit said public hearings would be needed in each locality since people's demands were different.

Padermsak Jarayadhand, director of Aquatic Resources Research and Institute of Chulalongkorn University, said he was concerned about the government's flood prevention measures.

"The government uses money as the key factor to deal with the problem. They draw up the projects and inject the money into them. It is impossible for all the projects to be completed in three months. The government is spending the budget based more on its political motives than the country's benefits," he said.

This is the first report in a series concerning preparations for this year's rainy season.
VIEW SOURCE FROM http://www.bangkokpost.com/

Posted by seangkhun den on 11:24 AM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

0 comments for "Flood projects won't finish before rains Budget problems delay launch of prevention plans"

Leave a reply