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Water scheme firms accept NCPO delay

Builders say they realise some project will go ahead after junta reviews scheme

THAI and foreign contractors picked to work on the Bt350-billion flood and water management scheme set up by the ousted Yingluck government say the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s decision to put the project on hold is a positive move.

The decision is not regarded as a permanent termination of the scheme, and the contractors have expressed hope it will continue.

They ruled out filing lawsuits against the junta seeking com-|pensation, as no deals had been penned.

The NCPO reportedly issued an order to suspend the scheme to all relevant government agencies last Friday, but the authenticity of the order was questioned.

However, NCPO official Colonel Weerathat Srisai said yesterday the decision was authentic and the scheme had been put on hold - but not terminated.

A project manager for Italian Thai Development Plc, Sakulchai Phattharakamphol, said around Bt100 million had been spent on research and surveys, but it was |not possible for the company to demand the money back through lawsuits because nothing had been signed.

He viewed the NCPO's decision as a positive as only necessary projects would now be implemented by government agencies with a budget no greater than Bt100 billion.

He said large-scale contractors expected other mega projects cited by the junta such as double rail tracks to continue, and be processed via normal bidding steps - unlike the flood and water management scheme, which was processed through a special, shorter procedure.

A director with South Korean-based K Water (Thailand) Co Ltd,

Monthol Phanuphokhin, said the company was ready to compete in a new bidding for the scheme if one was called.

The director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, Lertwiroj Kowattana, said he had received the order before Weeratchat's statement yesterday but he was not sure about the size of individual projects under scheme that would go ahead.

He said the RID was planning to propose around 1,000 medium- and small-sized projects for the NCPO's consideration.

An important project to be continued immediately is flood prevention works in the country's East, which was heavily inundated last year.

A senior Engineering Institute of Thailand figure under HM The King's patronage, Suwatana Chittaladakorn, said the NCPO's decision was good as the EIT had opposed the scheme.

Suwatana said useful projects under the scheme should continue in a more careful manner.

Some projects in the East aimed at alleviating flooding were impossible in engineering terms.

The EIT will hold a seminar on the scheme on Wednesday at its headquarters in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 39 in Bangkok.


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