PM orders review of volume of water released from dams

BANGKOK, Feb 28 - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday instructed the Ministry of Agricultural and Cooperatives to cautiously control and review the amount of water being released from dams nationwide to cope both with possible flooding and drought situations as advised by His Majesty the King.

The premier said her government will follow the king's advice regarding improvement of the water drainage system and planting a mix of fast and slow-growing trees to mitigate the flood threat.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej last Friday granted an audience to the prime minister and members of the two new water agencies, the Strategic Formulation Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM) and the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development (SCRF), at Siriraj Hospital where he has been staying since September 2009.

Ms Yingluck said she reiterated to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Royal Irrigation Department to carefully discharge water from the dams on a daily basis and that the released water should be useful for farming.

"The amount of water drained from the dams will be reviewed every month," stated the premier. "The amount should not reach 45 per cent as earlier said because the figure is not meant to be applied to every dam."

"Water in some dams may be discharged by 50 or 60 per cent at the consideration of the irrigation department," explained the premier, "but the 45 per cent rate is required for the Sirikit and Bhumibol dams."

Ms Yingluck conceded, however, that the amount of released water might be reviewed due to drought in some areas.

Regarding the provision of 2 million rai of water retention areas, Ms Yingluck said the agriculture ministry will report to her regarding the progress of the approach by the end of this month.

Ms Yingluck also expressed concern with the delay of infrastructure projects as it takes time to proceed with project procurement under state regulations.

"I have instructed all ministries and provinces to accelerate the projects and also ordered the Comptroller General’s Department to find faster but transparent ways to help speed up project implementation," she said.

Ms Yingluck added the cabinet appointed members to the National Water Resources and Flood Policy Committee which will be in charge of all flood prevention plans and will regularly communicate with the public on the progress of its work.

The premier said the recommendation of the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development to establish a so-called Forestation Development Corporation is a good idea but willingness and cooperation by the public is needed as it is a long-term project.

The prime minister assured the public that providing water retention areas will be done before the rainy season arrives. She will inspect canal dredging in downstream areas next week.

Regarding dredging canals and waterways in the capital, the premier commented that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has begun the work but more operation is needed. (MCOT online news)
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