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FLOOD PREVENTION

Projects worth Bt300 bn up for grabs

Focus on Chao Phraya, Northeast river basins, 25 firms interested



The Water and Flood Management Committee (WFMC) is offering Bt300 billion worth of projects to private firms in return for proposals on sustainable water-management or flood-prevention systems.

The WFMC office started handing out terms of reference (ToR) documents to interested companies yesterday.

"The documents will be available until July 23," Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee said in his capacity as WFMC chair. "We will brief the interested companies on July 24."

He said the budget would come from loans the government had obtained from Thai financial institutions. They would fund eight projects in the Chao Phraya River Basin, six projects for water basins in the Northeast, and one project in coastal areas.

Plodprasob said the overall picture of the projects should be clearer in the next three months. So far, 25 companies, including construction giant Ch Karnchang, and firms from Germany and Singapore, picked up the ToR documents yesterday.

"The construction of these projects will take at least five years," he said.

Plodprasob said he was confident the projects would give Thailand perfect water-drainage and early-warning systems, as well as good town planning.

Town planning is a key focus of the WFMC and Plodprasob yesterday named Pitipong Peungboon na Ayutthaya as chief of a working panel on town-planning systems. Peungboon now heads a subcommittee on short-term flood-prevention measures for the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM).

"We will have to clearly designate floodways and water-retention areas. Urban expansion should not spread to low-lying areas," Plodprasob said before attending the meeting.

He expected improved town planning would prevent the construction of any facility that blocked the natural flow of water. According to the minister, landowners should be required to seek prior permission from authorities for any land-filling projects are launched.

Plodprasob yesterday invited representatives from the Office of the National Economics and Social Development Board, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning and SCWRM to a meeting at the Science Ministry to discuss how to improve town planning.

State agencies have focused hard on flood prevention since the flood crisis late last year ravaged vast areas, causing hundreds of deaths, submerging industrial estates and the homes of millions.

Plodprasob said the government was confident the country would avoid devastating floods this year as dredging and the improvement of canals was already between 80 and 90 per cent complete.

"We are raising the height of roads that can serve as flood walls by between one to 1.5 metres for a combined stretch of 500 kilometres in Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, and Bangkok," he said.

These short-term measures are being implemented under a Bt50 billion budget.


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