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Institute leads calls to scrap flood agency

NCPO URGED TO SET UP NEW ORGANISATION TO DEAL WITH- WATER-MANAGEMENT ISSUES

THE ENGINEERING Institute of Thailand has recommended scrapping the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC) along with its Bt350-billion water-management modules.

Several panellists at a seminar, held by the institute yesterday to address the mega projects, shared the same stance.

"After the scrapping, the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] may decide later whether some of the projects should be revived," Suwatana Chittaladakorn, who heads the institute's Water Resource Engineering subcommittee, said.

Pramote Maiklad, former director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, said the NCPO should set up a new organisation to handle water-management issues instead.

According to Suwatana, the WFMC has exerted dominance over relevant government agencies to a point that they become worried about making clear decisions.

"So, we need a new organisation that will encourage joint management, not to constitute interference in the works of existing agencies," Suwatana said.

He said his institute would submit its recommendation - including its proposed solutions to the country's water problems - to the NCPO.

Last month, the NCPO came to power via a bloodless coup.

The previous government established the WFMC in the wake of the 2011 flood crisis and approved a massive budget for the overhaul of Thailand's water-management system.

The water-management modules prepared by the WFMC, however, have been met with widespread cynicism.

Criticism grew even further after the WFMC suspiciously rushed into bidding process and naming successful bidders.

Seub Nakhasathien Foundation's Sasin Chalermlarp is among the prominent figures questioning the preparations of the Bt350-billion water-management modules.

"The Mae Wong Dam is included in the modules after a work panel dismissed any of its members who raised concerns about the dam's impacts," he said.

Suwatana said his institute had long expressed concerns about the Bt350-billion water-management modules because they had not yet been subject to proper feasibility studies and public hearings.

"We agree that projects for tackling floods and drought are necessary. It's just that they should be carefully implemented for public benefit," he said.

Captain Chayakorn Phanla, who is on the NCPO team for social psychology, said he would compile information from yesterday's seminar for the NCPO to consider.

"NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has paid much attention to this issue," he said, adding that the NCPO was indeed preparing to set up a water-management panel.


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