New national water agency working on Bt50-billion canal projects
THE NEWLY established National Water Resources Management Office will consider several multi-billion-baht canal projects.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday the new office would decide on important projects such as the construction of the Bang Ban-Bang Sai Canal and a canal linking the Pasak River to the Gulf of Thailand.
“These projects are designed to facilitate water drainage,” he said.
The first canal would require a budget of Bt10 billion while the second would need more than Bt40 billion.
According to Prayut, the proposed Bang Ban-Bang Sai Canal had already won approval from local residents, but a further review would be needed on the second canal regarding its impacts on some communities.
Prayut addressed the major projects after flooding ravaged 17 provinces in the country’s Northeast, West and Central region. Accumulated rainfall this year has almost matched volumes during the 2011 flooding crisis.
Prayut said the government was doing its best to manage water volumes and urgently surveying flood damage to deliver help to affected people.
“HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn has instructed me to take care of people, especially in regard to flood problems,” he said.
He added that the King had constantly granted relief items to flood victims via delegates or privy councillors.
He said the government would provide assistance to flood victims in line with the law. “When floods cause suffering to people, I suffer too,” Prayut said.
He asked people to actively respond to advice from authorities and urged people to adjust their attitude when it came to water problems. “Don’t simply wait for help,” he said.
Reducing the impact
Prayut is currently visiting several flood-hit provinces. During a visit to Khon Kaen, he ordered relevant authorities to reduce water volume discharged from the Ubolrat Dam to 30 million cubic metres a day – down from 39 million cubic metres a day – in the hope of reducing the impact on downstream areas.
Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said medical workers had already been dispatched to check on people in flood-hit areas of Khon Kaen. “We have paid attention to bed-bound patients in particular,” he said.
He added that flooding had affected 95 medical facilities under the supervision of his ministry and 13 had to relocate to continue providing services.
“These facilities are subdistrict-level hospitals, eight in Ayutthaya and five in Sing Buri,” Piyasakol said.
In Pathum Thani, more than 50 temple dogs were near starvation as flooding had covered the area for nearly two months.
“There is not enough dog food, even though some people drop in to provide help,” a monk said.
The Meteorological Department has predicted heavy rain for the South between October 31 and November 3.
“We are preparing to deal with the situation in the South,” Prayut said.