Water scheme 'may not work'

national March 11, 2014 00:00

By Khanittha Thepphajorn,

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Senate panel calls for review of Bt350billion project

A SENATE subcommittee has called for a review of the government’s Bt350-billion water-management project out of concern that it “may not be a worthwhile investment”.

“I am worried that without changes made to the planned modules, the massive investment may not be worthwhile and end up being inefficient,” the subcommittee’s spokesman Thanawat Jarupongsakul said yesterday.

Apart from working as a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science, Thanawat also serves in the Senate subcommittee on budgeting for water-resources management.

He raised his concerns about the expensive water-management modules at an academic seminar, which was held by his sub-committee in collaboration with relevant agencies.

‘Lack of integration’

The caretaker government approved Bt350 billion for overhauling the country’s water-management system in the wake of the 2011 flood crisis.

“While we agree with the approval of the project, we have to raise concerns because after look

 ing into details, we have discovered that they are not well integrated. These modules have also failed to take into account climate change,” Thanawat said.

He added that such problems could make it impossible to avoid another big flood.

“So, the new government should review these water-management modules,” he said.

Pramote Maiklad, former chief of the Royal Irrigation Department, said Thailand would gain nothing from the Bt350-billion that the government was seeking to borrow to finance this project as the scheme did not respond to the country’s real needs.

“In fact, huge projects like this one need to be based on years of comprehensive studies,” he said.

Pramote went on to say this project would only transfer the flooding problem from one place to another.

Project put on hold

Last year, the Water and Flood Management Commission chose construction firms for the larger modules of the project.

However, no construction |has taken place to date as the Central Administrative Court ruled that the government must fulfil all legal requirements in relation to public hearings, environmental impact assessments and health impact assessments first.