Govt to name flood catchment zones

Areas will be identified this week; compensation has 'already been discussed'

The government is expected to identify specific areas to be included in the two million rai marked as water-catchments before the end of this week, according to a source at the Royal Irrigation Department.
The source yesterday disclosed that scales for compensation payment had already been discussed.
"For example, we will check how many crop seasons these areas have had each year in the past. The expected incomes of the farmers who have utilised the plots will then be taken into account when we work on compensation amounts," the source said.
To date, the government has offered Bt2,222 per rai of paddy fields ravaged by natural disasters. The amount is about half the actual cost incurred.

"I can assure you that there will be no land expropriation. We will not force people into submitting their land plots for water-retention purposes. We will offer fair compensation," Kijja Pholphasi said yesterday in his capacity as a member of the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM).
The vast water-catchment areas are part of the government's efforts to prevent flooding this year.
Today, a panel of the SCWRM will convene a meeting to follow up on the progress of short-term measures, including canal dredging and repair of water gates.
Petipong Pungbun Na Ayudhya, a panel member, said dredging of existing canals and improving capacity of existing floodways to drain water and reduce flood risk were among the urgent measures to be completed before the upcoming rainy season in the next four months.
Natural waterways should be mainly used as floodways in water and flood management this year, rather than depending on man-made channels, many of which do not yet exist, he said.
Speaking of a proposal to create a "Chao Phraya 2" floodway, Petipong said it was a long-term solution which would take time and many steps, including a public hearing.
Instead of building man-made floodways in the short term, he added that he proposed using streets in the Eastern Outer Ring and Buddha Mondhol 5 Road in the western area of Bangkok as channels to drain water.
"I am sure that if we follow this short-term plan, we will not face a flood crisis this year," he said.
"I can assure that there will be no massive expropriation of land to be used as floodways. The main factor behind the 2011 massive flooding was the huge rainfall," he said.
Petipong admitted to being upset at not getting information from government agencies quickly enough. "I am just an ordinary person, not a permanent secretary, a director-general or a minister," he added.
Obstacles to water flow will be demolished as a short-term solution, after information is received from agencies, including the State Railway of Thailand, the Department of Highways and the Royal Irrigation Department.
Petipong's panel asked other agencies, including the Transport Ministry, to demolish roads and other related structures - including bridge pillars or railroads - that could obstruct narrow floodwater flows, such as Bang Na-Trat Road.
He said the panel also had a plan to manage and release water from main dams including Sirikit and Bhumibol dams. However, he said he was worried about public concern about plans to use agricultural land or farmers' paddy fields as water-retention areas and "monkey cheeks" to store and drain flood water.
He said the government had to tell local people clearly about the planned use of their agricultural land for water retention and the compensation they would receive.
"We still have no plans to expropriate land from people who live in floodway areas - but we will improve the capacity of existing canals and floodways to drain the water," he said.
The committee also has a plan to protect the economic zone - such as by fixing the existing dyke along the Chao Phraya River, dredging canals and increasing the capacity of pumping stations, he added.
Meanwhile, SCWRM member Royon Jitdon disclosed that the National Water and Flood Committee would integrate all water information by May. He was speaking after a meeting with the prime minister.

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