DROUGHT CRISIS

All posts tagged DROUGHT CRISIS

High tides could impact water supply

Published April 10, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/High-tides-could-impact-water-supply-30282920.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

Drought in northern Lampang province’s Mae Mo district has caused Mae Change reservoir to dry out. Local residents yesterday inspected ruin buildings of a |temple and community that were submerged in the reservoir after the dam construction 40 years ago.

Drought in northern Lampang province’s Mae Mo district has caused Mae Change reservoir to dry out. Local residents yesterday inspected ruin buildings of a |temple and community that were submerged in the reservoir after the dam construction 40 years ago.

MORE THAN 12 million people in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan may have to stock up on water during this dry season, as the high tide and severe drought have rapidly turned the Chao Phraya River brackish.

Narongrit Srisatidnarakul, deputy governor for water transmission and distribution at the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA), said yesterday that from Tuesday until tomorrow, the rising sea will cause high salinity in the Chao Phraya and lead to difficulties in tap water production.

The 12 million water consumers may experience a slowness in the flow of tap water.

“According to our water quality standards for tap water production, we will not pump water if salinity is beyond 0.25 gram per litre.

“And during the high tide these four days, we have to reduce operations at the Sam Lae pumping station,” he said.

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“However, we have stored raw water when the salinity in front of the pumping station was low, so water users in Bangkok can be assured that there will not be any shortage,” he said.

The Irrigation Department reported that salinity at the Sam Lae pumping station, which is 96 kilometres from the delta, was 0.32 gram per litre on Tuesday and 0.27 gram yesterday, higher than the MWA’s standard.

The MWA carefully monitors the daily tide forecast from the Hydrographic Department to prepare for changes in saltwater intrusion into the river.

The MWA had a plan to cope with the high salinity situation and is also working closely with the Irrigation Department to relieve the salinity in the river.

“We asked the department to discharge more water to dilute the salinity.

“They’ve already agreed to increase water flow from 81 cubic metres per second to 90,” he said.

Suthep Noipairoj, director-general of the department, confirmed that it had already prepared water to drive back the salt water.

Releasing more fresh water would not reduce the water available for domestic consumption, he said.

“However, on April 8-9, there will be a new high tide, but the salinity level will not be as bad as this high tide,” he said.

Not only are Bangkok people suffering from the drought, but also people in many provinces, who have been struggling with shortage of water.

According to the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA), 18 of its branches nationwide have scaled back water distribution, five branches are seeing saltwater encroachment and three in Nakhon Sawan’s Tha Tako district, Khon Kaen’s Nong Ruea district and Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Thongchai district have had irregular water release.

Suthep said some dams like Ubonrat would dry up soon, but there would still be the dead storage left to use.

“There is nothing to worry about. Even if the available water in Ubonrat Dam runs out, we still have 180 million cubic metres of spare water for the rest of the dry season.

“But I would like to ask everyone to save as much water as possible.”

 

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Provincial Waterworks plans to offer rewards to people who use less water

Published April 9, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Provincial-Waterworks-plans-to-offer-rewards-to-pe-30282524.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

A bird-eye’s view shows the Yom River drying up in Sukhothai’s Si Samrong district. Some parts of the river bed are already exposed. Temperatures in the area soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius yesterday.

A bird-eye’s view shows the Yom River drying up in Sukhothai’s Si Samrong district. Some parts of the river bed are already exposed. Temperatures in the area soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius yesterday.

A farmer lights fires in Lampang’s Ngao district yesterday to clear land plots for farming. These agricultural fires have worsened air pollution in many parts of the North.

A farmer lights fires in Lampang’s Ngao district yesterday to clear land plots for farming. These agricultural fires have worsened air pollution in many parts of the North.

MANY areas in Thailand and nearby countries have been hit hard by the hot weather and Thai authorities have been forced to offer rewards for people to reduce their use of water.

Cambodians have been crossing the border to Thailand to buy water and ice to sell back home. Meanwhile, Malaysia is considering moves to alleviate the drought, including artificial rain-making.

Thailand’s Provincial Waterworks Authority has a three-month campaign that will see residents who consume less water given reduced fees.

The campaign will compare people’s use of water between April and May, May and June and June and July.

The water authority said the reduction would be up to Bt100.

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Meanwhile, a large number of Cambodian workers were seen pushing carts full of bottled water and sacks of ice cubes from Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaew into Poipet town in Cambodia’s Bantaey Meanchey province.

Reports said more than 100 carts came to Aranyaprathet to buy water and ice cubes between 7am and 10.30am yesterday. It was estimated that more than 100 tonnes of ice cubes and 60,000 bottles of drinking water were bought.

The Thai task force operating checkpoints in the area was ordered to check the carts carefully to prevent smuggling of illegal goods.

A source said a senior Cambodian immigration official in Poipet had contacted his Thai counterpart to help allow Cambodian vehicles to cross to the district to buy water.

This comes at a time when many Cambodian provinces are suffering a shortage of water.

Meanwhile, The Star Online revealed that Malaysia was considering using cloud seeding to curb hot and dry weather conditions caused by the El Nino weather pattern.

But Science Innovation and Technology Minister Madius Tangau said such operations would only be done when there is haze and the air quality reaches unhealthy levels.

“We have received many requests and recommendations to carry out cloud seeding. But we have to consider El Nino as a whole.

“If we do cloud seeding today, the weather will still be hot and dry tomorrow, and the same problem will recur,” he said on Thursday.

However, the fear of hotter days has diminished because the heat wave has weakened and El Nino is expected to have less impact by June.

Tangau said six places in the country had recorded temperatures of between 37 and 39 degrees Celsius as of 4pm yesterday.

 

Officials seek new water sources amid drought

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Officials-seek-new-water-sources-amid-drought-30281697.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

Three houses collapsed into a two-metre hole after land along a canal outside Wat Chiew-osot subsided in Nakhon Nayok province yesterday. Repeated incidences of subsidence have been blamed on the ongoing drought. Nobody was injured and residents were able

Three houses collapsed into a two-metre hole after land along a canal outside Wat Chiew-osot subsided in Nakhon Nayok province yesterday. Repeated incidences of subsidence have been blamed on the ongoing drought. Nobody was injured and residents were able

AUTHORITIES ARE now working hard to find water to supply parched households.

In Nakhon Ratchasima province, a 39-rai (6.2-hectare) pond used for water storage is running dry, with nearly two-thirds of its volume already exhausted. Estimates show that the pond only has 90,000 cubic metres of water left to keep taps running.

The pond supplies raw water to a waterworks facility, which provides tap water for seven villages.

“This much water is only enough for two weeks,” Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Wichian Chanthanothai said yesterday, adding that he met representatives of the seven villages and assured them that relevant authorities had already found a way to keep taps running.

“The Tambon Seemoom Administrative Organisation plans to fill the pond by taking water from a source just 1,800 metres away,” he explained, adding that the local disaster prevention and mitigation office would provide pumps for the process.

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“The filling process should kick off on March 21 and there should be enough water available until June,” he said.

Chidchanok Somprasert, who heads the Irrigation Office 8, also disclosed that the joint-management committee for the Lam Chae Dam has agreed to release 30,000 cubic metres of water daily for the Nakhon Ratchasima waterworks office in the face of the drought.

“We will do so for three months so as to ensure the tap-water services are not interrupted,” he said.

In Udon Thani province, relevant authorities have been holding meetings to check on the water situation out of concern that the dwindling amount of raw water might disrupt tap-water services.

“We have agreed to pump water from Huai Luang reservoir for waterworks,” Udon Thani Governor Chayawut Chanthorn said, adding that the provincial waterworks office will provide funds for fuelling the pumps.

In a related development, Royal Irrigation Department spokesman Thongplew Kongjun addressed local people’s concerns that a canal in Suphan Buri province would not have enough water to provide tap water, by saying that relevant officials had already dammed a section in the canal to store water.

“Water hyacinth has also been removed from the canal to ease the flow of water into tap-water facilities,” he said. However, he called on people to continue saving water as water resources were running low.

 

Water survey ordered

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Water-survey-ordered-30281484.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

THE INTERIOR MINISTRY has issued additional instructions to its officials nationwide to prepare for the predicted severe drought in the approaching dry season.

The agencies were also asked to survey the remaining water in their areas and |estimate how long the water would last for consumption if the areas saw no downpours until June.

Officials were directed to map out the spots for distributing water to people so that there would be no overlaps in assistance.

They are also urged to contact departments under the Agriculture Ministry, such as Irrigation Department, and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, such as Water Resources Department, to learn how much groundwater was in their areas.

Then they could drill |artesian wells or construct reservoirs.

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Local residents should also be told to use water carefully and be prepared for water that could be available at set times.

The agencies were warned to be careful when giving assistance to people living in areas declared as disaster zones.

Those areas would be |eligible for financial assistance and it is said the money does not reach the affected villagers, as officials keep the money for themselves.

 

Handbooks to advise on water-saving, coping with drought

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Handbooks-to-advise-on-water-saving-coping-with-dr-30281382.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

#ID: 20160311104832479 NATION/TATCHADON PANYAPHANITKUL A woman pushes a cart out of her home to get water from tanks yesterday because tap-water is no longer available in her hometown in Tambon Sa Kaeo, in Suphan Buri’s Muang district. Tha Sadej Munici

#ID: 20160311104832479 NATION/TATCHADON PANYAPHANITKUL A woman pushes a cart out of her home to get water from tanks yesterday because tap-water is no longer available in her hometown in Tambon Sa Kaeo, in Suphan Buri’s Muang district. Tha Sadej Munici

THE Education Ministry has produced 300,000 handbooks, which it will distribute to schools and community-learning centres in a bid to encourage water-saving, as the country is wracked by a serious drought crisis.

Kamjorn Tatiyakavee, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said on Thursday that the handbooks, written by the Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education, provide information on how people can save water, and shows them how canals and wells can be dredged to boost water-retention capacity.

Apart from being a model for saving water, schools and vocational education officials visiting communities under the “Fix it Centre” scheme will also provide vocational training to farmers – who have run short of irrigation water – to earn extra income during the drought, he said.

Universities will also be asked to come up with long-term solutions to deal with the crisis, he added.

The ministry has asked 3,347 schools under the Office of Basic Education Commission to survey their wells to see if there is enough water for general usage, otherwise other measures such as dredging and filtering would be applied Kamjorn said.

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So far, no school has reported of being seriously affected by the drought crisis, he said.

 

Water office chief reacts to reports about conflict in Suphan Buri

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Water-office-chief-reacts-to-reports-about-conflic-30281214.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

THONGPLAEW KONGCHAN, director of the Water Management Office, has clarified reports that severe water shortages have led to conflicts between locals in Suphan Buri’s Song Phi Nong district, as one group demolished a sluice gate for an irrigation canal in the area.

“No one destroyed the dam as reported,” he said.

The group reportedly claimed that they destroyed the gate on the order of water distribution and maintenance officials since the gate caused a water shortage for downstream villagers.

One group filed a complaint against the other group, calling on officials to investigate the complaint.

Thongplaew said irrigation officials checked the complaint and found that the building that was torn down was a concrete dam that maintained the water in each irrigation canal at consistent levels.

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Since the water shortages hit the area, the people in downstream areas have not received water.

Some villagers also sneaked into the area to open and close the gate without waiting for their turn to receive water.

Officials have tried to solve the problem by pumping water to increase the water level so it reaches the downstream area.

They also reduced the height of the dam by breaking its top part so that the water reaches the downstream areas.

Suthep Noipairot, director-general of the Irrigation Department, said that a total of 2.12 billion cubic metres of water had been released from the four major dams of the Chao Phraya River basin since November last year to yesterday.

If 18 million cubic metres of water are released from the four dams per day, the water would be enough for consumption and ecological purposes until July.

More than 1.9 million rai of paddies have been planted with off-season rice, 823,000 rai have been harvested and 1.1 million rai have yet to be harvested.

The figure shows less off-season rice than last year because officials have campaigned against off-season rice planting.

Many rice farmers joined the governmen’s projects to reduce water consumption.

Water supplies under the department’s management would definitely be enough for consumption till July.

The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives aims to increase the rice paddies covered by disaster insurance to 3 million rai or 200,000 farmers this year from 1.5 million rai and 92,000 farmers last year.

The policy includes protection against floods, heavy rain, drought, storms, typhoons, cold weather, hail storms, fire and outbreaks of crop diseases.

Luk Wajjananawat, a bank manager, said the National Reform Council would pass a law that would make insurance for agricultural produce a permanent scheme like in foreign countries.

The insurance scheme will help increase the financial stability of farmers and reduce uncertainty in agricultural production.

The council is studying suitable insurance schemes of various countries.

 

Ban on Songkran splashing would be impossible: PM

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Ban-on-Songkran-splashing-would-be-impossible-PM-30281117.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

THE Prime Minister has rejected a suggestion that the government ban Songkran revellers from splashing water during the festival because of severe shortages nationwide.

“I will not ban water throwing, because it is impossible,” he said.

“Parents should teach their children to use less water and not to transport water in trucks and splash it for three days and three nights. If there is not enough water for consumption in May, who will take responsibility?” he said. “It will be the government.”

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was responding to a proposal that the government strictly control water usage. Prayut said the government could make an announcement but people did not seem to listen. “That is our problem,” he said

He also blamed past governments for a failure of water management.

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“We should have had water distribution and piping systems linked nationwide. Why did we not invest in this project long ago? We will fight over water. Soldiers will have to hold guns monitoring water pumps. It should not be like that,” he said.

Prayut has ordered four major dams to release not more than 18 million cubic metres of water for agriculture and also asked local residents to build small dams to store water.

Meanwhile, a road in Pathum Thani’s Nongsua district has been blocked after land subsidence linked to the drought made it impassable.

Klong Rangsit 14 Road collapsed between kilometres 400 and 500, leaving a three-metre hole that a taxi fell into.

The stretch of road had been fixed, but another 25-metre stretch was affected by subsidence, again making the route impassable.

The road is normally heavily used by farmers to transport their produce to market.

Thitinan Charoen-art, municipal clerk of Muang Sananrak, said the road would be blocked while the subsidence-affected area was repaired, adding that officials would meet to discuss the problem of the drought.

Phayao Governor Supachai Iam-suwan said there was only 14 million cubic metres of water in Phayao Lake even though water had been diverted from Mae Tam reservoir. He said the lake lost about 10,000 cubic metres of water per day, which officials were investigating.

Phayao’s Provincial Waterworks Office branch manager Krit Ketcharal said officials were installing pipes to pump water to the lake.

The office has reserved water in Nong Kwang reservoir to be used for tap-water and built a mobile water production plant that can process up to 200 cubic metres of water per hour.

He said raw water in Phayao Lake could produce tap-water for not more than two months. “We are waiting for a miracle of rain during Songkran or we will divert water from Nong Kwang as the last resort,” he said.

 

Drought hits several islands off Ranong and parts of Trang

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Drought-hits-several-islands-off-Ranong-and-parts–30281018.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

THE drought has hit the South, with more than 200 families on islands off Ranong facing water scarcity and two |districts in Trang not having enough water to produce tap-water.

Meanwhile, the Irrigation Department revealed that work has started on an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Mae Wong Dam. Opponents, however, say they have already presented a cheaper method of water management.

In Ranong, Banlue Saetan, the mayor of Tambon Pak Nam, said yesterday that the drought had already affected many people living on Chang Island, Lao Island and Payam Island. Water sources on the islands had run dry because there had been no rain at all for three months.

Banlue said people had to buy water from the mainland, while local authorities were providing water trucks for island residents at coastal piers.

Ranong provincial governor Suriyan Kanchanasin said that there were 30 villages in Muang, Kapor and Kraburi districts suffering from drought.

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In Trang, Kanya Kantapiti, manager of the Kantang branch of the Provincial Waterworks Authority, said local tap-water distribution for 10,687 people in Kantang and Sikao districts had to be restricted to two times a day because there was not enough water for tap-water production.

Irrigation Department director Suthep Noipairoj said that as drought has now affected every part of the country, work had begun on an EIA study for the Mae Wong Dam in Nakhon Sawan – in a bid to tackle the drought/flood problem in Sakae Krang River Basin.

This fresh round of EIA research on the Mae Wong Dam project is the fifth since the idea to build this dam was first presented, back in 1982. After the EIA report is finished, it will be sent to the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) for consideration by a specialist committee.

Sasin Chalermlarp, president of the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, revealed that there was still no official feedback from the government or Irrigation Department to his suggestion that smaller, integrated water management projects be set up. These, he said, could store up to 200 million cubic metres of water and would be six times cheaper than building the Mae Wong Dam.

“I am now fighting against the dam on official procedures. Our foundation supplied facts on another side of the dam to the ONEP – every time a Mae Wong Dam EIA report was submitted. We also work on alternative ways of managing water instead of building the dam,” Sasin said.

However, Irrigation Department boss Suthep argued that this alternative plan would be an ineffective.

“I would like to ask Sasin, how his water management plan can store the water without building a dam. I still |insist that dam building remains important, as nowadays the people in Bangkok enjoy [using] the water from dams,” he said.

 

3 hospitals relying on trucks filled with water

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/3-hospitals-relying-on-trucks-filled-with-water-30280780.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

Residents in some areas face rationing because of daily limits on tap-water.

AT LEAST three hospitals are now reliant on water sent in by trucks to keep normal services running.

Abhaibhubet Hospital in Prachin Buri province is taking between 20,000 and 30,000 litres a day via water trucks.

“Local military bases have stepped in early this month to ensure the hospital has water for patients needing dialysis, as well as for other purposes,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday.

He said military bases had also sent water trucks to the Fort Chakkrapong Hospital, in Prachin Buri, for the same reasons. Local military bases had their own waterworks facilities and a reservoir, he said, so they could share water with the hospitals.

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Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, meanwhile, headed to Chiang Mai province yesterday to express moral support to the San Patong Hospital, which has struggled with a water crisis since 2010.

The hospital needs about 200,000 litres of water a day, which means it requires support from other units at a time when tap-water may not always be running, given current limits on water resources.

At the peak of this crisis, the hospital used to ask for 40 water trucks a day – until the Public Health Ministry gave it Bt6 million to dig artesian wells and to secure better access to the Provincial Waterworks Authority.

But, San Patong Hospital still needs 10 water trucks a day.

“The hospital is now preparing a surface water system too. After it is completed, its water shortage will ease even further,” Piyasakol said.

But impacts from the drought are also being felt by ordinary households.

Yuttapong Pichayaporn, manager of the Pak Thong Chai waterworks in Nakhon Ratchasima, disclosed yesterday that sources of raw water for tap-water production had shrunk to the point that his office had decided to make tap-water available only during some periods during the day.

“We need to take such measures to ensure tap-water will run throughout the ongoing dry season,” he explained.

His branch’s services cover 9,600 families. Some of them can only get tap-water between 4pm and 8pm. Many others faced even more restrictions. Tap-water at homes will run from 5am to 9am on alternate days only.

Officially, the country’s dry season ends late next month. However, several experts have warned that the wet season may start late this year.

Among measures used to tackle the drought are projects to dig artesian wells.

The Groundwater Resources Department (GSD) is now preparing to dig 735 more artesian wells. Private operators will be hired to dig wells 100-metres deep at a standard price of Bt240,000 per well.

These projects will go ahead even though the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) warned the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry that illegitimate commissions were allegedly collected in 10-30 per cent of budgets for digging wells – for materials, fuel and staff allowances and totalling more than Bt100 million in damages. Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas said that such ill-gotten gains were shared among those involved at all levels.

But GSD director general Supot Jermsawatdipong said yesterday: “There is no such network of corrupt officials engaged in artesian-well digging projects. But we are investigating into whether individual officials have been corrupt.”

He vowed to take harsh disciplinary action against officials found guilty in the investigations.

“In addition to launching inquiries, we also plan to introduce additional anti-graft measures,” Supot said. In a related development, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry yesterday dispatched a helicopter to help extinguish a bushfire in mountainous areas of Nakhon Nayok province.

The fire, which broke out on Wednesday night, has already ravaged between 200 and 300 rai of forestland. Deputy Governor Woraphan Suwannus expressed hope yesterday that with the helicopter and hundreds of officials on the ground, the blaze would soon be put out.

 

Corruption in well-digging being probed: PM

Published March 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Corruption-in-well-digging-being-probed-PM-30280726.html

DROUGHT CRISIS

A farmer in Suphan Buri’s Don Chedi |district brings his cattle to graze on grass at the Makham Thao-Uthong canal, which has been dry for two months.

A farmer in Suphan Buri’s Don Chedi |district brings his cattle to graze on grass at the Makham Thao-Uthong canal, which has been dry for two months.

Audit-general’s office estimates damage at more than BT100 million.

PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said alleged corruption in artesian water well-digging projects was being probed and affirmed the government has no hidden agenda in implementing the projects aimed at tackling the drought.

His comments came after the Office of the Auditor-General reported to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry about alleged corruption in well-digging projects, causing damage of more than Bt100 million. Prayut said the government was investigating such allegations.

“There is no hiding [or sheltering for wrongdoers]. Whoever did wrong will face the consequences… The government implements these projects with the best of intentions and has always instructed those executing the projects to adhere to budget-spending regulations. When something is wrong, they must explain it, and face justice,” he said, adding that after seeing the Office raise the issue of alleged irregularities, he had already instructed related agencies to provide explanations on the contentious points. The premier also admitted he was worried about there not being enough water for people’s use because of the drought.

Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas, earlier yesterday, told Spring News’s “Inside Thailand” radio programme on FM98.5 that he had alerted Minister Surasak Karnjanarat that the Groundwater Resources Department’s artesian water source development projects were found to have irregularities. Some of the schemes were meant for agriculture in drought-hit areas, for drinking water at schools nationwide, and to support Royal Initiative projects.

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Pisit claimed some of the practices were against law and civil service regulations, which have gone on for years resulting in poor-quality artesian water wells. He said illegitimate commissions were allegedly collected in 10-30 per cent of well-digging-related budgets such as for materials, fuel and staff allowances, totalling more than Bt100 million in damages. He alleged that such ill-gotten gains were shared among those involved at all levels. He said there were also forged documents and budget withdrawals in advance of projects, after which some wrongdoers left the civil service with their superior’s knowledge, who were often aware of such wrongdoings. There were also alledged attempts at concealment and lack of legal action to bring the culprits to justice, which could be considered negligence of duty, he added.

The auditor-general’s office had checked the budgets and expenses for fiscal years 2009 to 2016 and the spending on the projects in question. It initially found that the Groundwater Resources Department had received the money and had itself implemented these projects. Hence the auditor-general’s office thought that there should be measures in place to prevent this from recurring, he added.

Meanwhile, the director of the Agricultural Economics Operation Centre (AEOC) of the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE), Bhumisak Rasri, yesterday reported that the KU-OAE Foresight Centre (KOFC) analysis on the drought situation from 2015 until early 2016 found it had already damaged 2.86 million rai of farmland. This has affected 271,341 farmers, leaving them unable to grow crops, especially rice, he said. He added that this issue would, in the long-term, affect production efficiency and have an adverse impact on the community economy. As many farmers found themselves jobless during this drought season, KOFC found the ratio of agricultural manpower in 2012-15 was continuously declining; from farmers making up 39.63 per cent of the country’s employed citizens

in 2012 to just 32.28 per cent in 2015.

KOFC also found an increase in farm workers aged over 60 and a decrease in farm workers aged 15-39, he added.

“The downturn of the economy saw many factories closing, resulting in many losing their jobs, especially those who would normally have moved to the agriculture sector. This year, the drought has already posed problems for farmers and those workers outside the agricultural sector,” he said, also suggesting that farmers must adapt what they produce and can sell according to the situation.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry instructed 62 drought-hit provinces to submit by Monday an updated report on the supplies of water for use and consumption as the drought was expected to last until May, ministry permanent secretary Krissada Boonrat yesterday. The information would be integrated and used in the planning for better water management and remedial measures for those affected, he added.

 

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