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As flood time nears, PM calls for work speed up

Following concern that water management was progressing slowly in upstream areas, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday called a National Water Resources and Flood Policy Committee (NWFPC) meeting to make reports.

Yingluck admitted some work in the upstream area was behind schedule and told reporters that agencies were trying to speed it up, aiming for all stages to be complete in time to tackle this rainy season's flooding. In the areas affected by delays, officials would discuss appropriate adjustments, she said.

The prime minister said she had received no information from provincial governors about land subsidence at previously flooded areas in Angthong, Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani. She said, however, she felt quite relieved at some work progress, including water release from dams and ongoing and progressing pipe dredging.

Yingluck said her main concern was now with construction projects, because the bidding and contract signing took time - but she would focus on them.

Yingluck commented before the Cabinet meeting yesterday on delays in water management, saying the upstream area should have been completed by June, mid-stream by July and the downstream area by August.

As of July, the upstream works remain incomplete. She said she would personally supervise progress through the NWFPC.

Meanwhile, Science and Technology Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee said the government was offering large Thai and foreign consultancy companies a terms of reference (TOR) application for a Bt300-billion project for the design of a sustainable water-management system and flood solutions.

The TOR was available from the office of the ministry's permanent secretary.

He said the bid winner would be announced early next year. A conference to explain the TOR would be held at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday, he added.

This bidding would be for 14 large-scale projects including eight schemes in the Chao Phraya River basin and six at other river basins. Plodprasob said his project wouldn't be in conflict with the Bt120-billion water-management project planned for upstream, mid-stream and downstream areas, which would be enhanced by it.

Corrections Department chief Suchart Wong-anantachai said the project in which inmates are dredging sewage and drainage pipes in Bangkok would be complete by July 15, in time to tackle flooding threats.

Suchart said the project now covered 88.96 per cent - or 3,223,834 metres out of the 3,624,095 metres - of pipes the government initially assigned the department to dredge. He said the inmates dredged an additional 500-kilometre-long area, which left the progress slower than anticipated.


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