FARMERS in Chiang Rai province are willing to let their farmland be flooded in order to rescue the 13 trapped footballers even as water drainage operations at the Tham Luang cave have already caused flooding in the low-lying areas.
As gratitude for the farmers’ generosity, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has promised to pay full compensation to all farmers affected by the rescue operation.
The large amount of water diverted from the cave has flooded more than 1,000 rai (160 hectares) of farmland in the low-lying areas.
Bua Chaicheun, one of the affected farmers from this unnatural flood, said she was not upset about the damage to her crop and had voluntarily let her farm be flooded to help the rescuers save the stranded footballers in the cave.
“This area is low-lying and prone to flooding every year, so a large amount of water that was pumped out of the cave flows down here and has caused an unseasonal flood,” Bua said. “I admit that this flood has caused damage to me and other farmers in the area, because we had just started the rice cultivation season and many newly planted paddy are damaged by the floodwater.”
She said her paddy field has been flooded since last Saturday, from the time the intensive water drainage operation began.
“I am also worried about the well-being of these boys as they are like my own children and I really want them to be safely rescued out of the cave,” she said.
The Agricultural Extension Department director-general Somchai Chanarongkul revealed that Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach had acknowledged the adverse impacts from the rescue operations on the local farmers. He has ordered the Agricultural Extension Department to survey and provide assistance to these selfless farmers.
Somchai said from the initial survey by local authorities, it was found that 101 farmers were affected by the water drainage operation and 8.39 per cent or 1,397 rai of farmland in three tambon of Mae Sai district had been submerged.
“All the affected farmers are eligible to get full compensation of Bt1,113 per rai as per the regulation on disaster relief compensation of the Finance Ministry, even though these areas are not yet declared as a disaster-affected area,” he said.
“There will be a survey on flood damage again after the water recedes in order to get accurate information on the actual losses, so we can grant compensation to the affected farmers.”
Chiang Rai Provincial Governor will declare the area flood affected after the rescue operation at Tham Luang cave, he said.
He added that only minor damage to paddy crops was expected, because rice can normally tolerate high floodwater for up to 15 days, while it is also expected that this flood will be short one, because the water can be drained out easily, as there is no flood in other areas.