February 15, 2013 00:00 By Chularat Saengpassa, Pongphon
Team Thailand, the only local consortium picked to bid for the Bt350 billion water management project, is confident that its strong background would be a strong point when the group enters the next round of screening.
The consortium consists of eight Thai-registered firms, including Team Group and Ch Karnchang. While Team Group has been in the engineering consulting field for several decades, Ch Karnchang is a heavyweight in the country’s construction industry. Team Group has also been working very closely with the Irrigation Department during the past few years in surveying potential water-retention areas in the Central region.
“We have all the databases on water retention areas in the central plains,” Team Group executive Chawalit Chantararat told The Nation.
Despite their extensive experience, their concept plans won them the right to compete for only two of the 10 project modules. The contenders for the remaining modules are consortia of foreign companies or Thai-foreign companies. The K Water Resources Consortium is the only one possibly bidding for all 10 modules.
One of the two modules involving Team Thailand is to plan the massive water retention area (monkey cheek) and the improvement of agricultural and irrigated land in upper Nakhon Sawan and Ayutthaya. They will be used to retain run-offs.
This area is expected to hold 6 billion cubic metres of water during the wet season to prevent flooding even when there are huge run-offs.
According to Team Thailand, more than 2 million rai of flood plains in the Chao Phraya River basin, through proper management, can become giant monkey cheeks that will save the country’s economic zones from serious swamping.
When massive floods swept over the country’s economic zones in late 2011, the damage estimate was to the tune of Bt1.4 trillion.
About 20 large areas, including irrigated areas, natural watersheds, swamps, lakes and floodplains in Sing Buri, Angthong, Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok, Chai Nat and Nakhon Sawan could be developed as water-retention areas. Together, they could hold 6 billion cubic metres of water.
“If we win this project, Team Group will design the system and construction specifications while Ch Karnchang will be responsible for construction,” he said. This project will require a budget of Bt60 billion.
Under the concept plan submitted to the Water and Flood Management Commission, sluice gates and pumps will also be installed around monkey cheeks to control the water level and flow. Roads will be raised and used as embankments to block water from flowing out of the monkey cheeks.
Team Thailand has already taken into account the project’s possible impacts on people.
“We have prepared a proposal for remedial action. We have even included several options and a manual on how to pay compensation to people whose fields become inundated,” he said.
The proposal and manual were drafted in response to opinions from locals in the potential water-retention areas, whom Team Group had reached out and spoken to.
The impacts on people would be minimised because at least 1 million rai of land for the project were natural floodplains or flooded fields. These floodplains are located in Sing Buri, Angthong and Ayutthaya.
Not many patches of land in Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat and Phitsanulok would be included in the project because most land there had already become irrigated areas and paddy fields.
The other module that Team Thailand will vie for is the improvement of the database system and early warning systems in 17 river basins.
Team Thailand would improve the systems by establishing a centre that would serve as the portal for all water databases in the country. This centre will gather weather and water information from all domestic and international organisations for analysis and send the results to agencies such as the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Centre, National Disaster Warning Centre and Public Relations Department.
With well-rounded information and efficient analysis, early warnings can be sent to people via mobile phones and other channels.
These two modules would be very useful for water management and flood prevention. Chawalit’s team is hopeful that they will secure both contracts and complete the plans within the five-year timeline.
“We expect fewer environmental concerns and less local opposition for these projects than the eight other modules too,” he said.