Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called yesterday for a new approach in tackling the country’s water woes, highlighting the need for regional centres to monitor the flood situation.
Speaking to provincial governors, the premier said that local flood centres must be up and running to coordinate efficiently with the central Water and Flood Management Committee (WFMC).
“WFMC is the single command but it will engage with forward centres in all situations,” Yingluck said.
The “forward centres” are expected to present updated information on the water situation to the WFMC and relevant authorities.
“Work implementation is based on the information we receive. The information from the forward centres is very important. Make sure it is accurate,” the PM said.
She added that the WFMC would analyse information from local centres and then present it to the public.
“That way, people can scrutinise our work,” she said.
Yingluck said flood centres should be established at not just the provincial level but also district and local levels. In normal situations, these forward centres would gather information, but they would also take charge of disaster situations at severity levels 1 to 4.
Disasters at severity levels 5 and higher would be handled by the central centre.
Yingluck told the governors to start the area-based approach.
“People are watching us. We have to work actively,” she said.
The country’s water woes were not just about flooding, but also drought. She urged the governors to plan for their areas but also to think about the whole country.
The PM said the government was managing the water situation in line with His Majesty’s initiatives and would respect the rule of nature.
Later yesterday, Yingluck said she welcomed inquiries by the Office of the Public-Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) into allegations that most of the government’s flood-relief projects were mired with corruption.
“The government is against corruption. Relevant authorities should dig deep into the allegations and find clear-cut answers,” she said.
In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul, Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk met to discuss Thailand’s plan to host the second Asia-Pacific Water Summit. This was set back from February because Thailand was still dealing with last year’s flood crisis.
“We plan to include water management as a topic for the summit too,” Surapong said. The summit would take place next May. Leaders of relevant organisations and academics from 50 countries are expected to take part, he said.
“We plan to share Thailand’s experiences with others. They can be useful.”
He added that the initial budget for hosting this summit would be around Bt150 million.