PM announces 2012 flood management master plan

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BANGKOK, Jan 20 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday announced her government’s water management 2012 master plan to increase the efficiency of the flood-prevention system and to integrate water management operations to speed draining water into the sea.

In announcing the water management master plan of the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM), the premier said the large amount of rainfall, triggered by tropical storms from June through October, 2011, on average 39 per cent in the North and 22 per cent over the Central Plain, caused flash floods and flooding affecting 400,000 households and killing 676 persons. Environmental damage costing Bt1.42 trillion occurred and about one million labourers were affected.

She said the government realised it is important to lay out a sustainable water system and to restore confidence among the public, farmers, businesspeople and investors.

Under the plan, three main principles are to improve the flood prevention system, to build confidence in preventing floods in residential areas, farmland, business and industrial areas and lastly to integrate the cooperation of agencies concerned in draining water rapidly into the sea.

Ms Yingluck said the water management guidelines will focus on forestation of upstream water sources in line with His Majesty King Bhumibol’s initiative.

Slowing down water streams and building dykes will prevent severe torrents of water. In the central region, floodways and water retention area will be the focus.  Speedy water drainage into the sea will be an important matter for downstream areas.

The prime minister said the 2012 action plan is to minimise damage. A budget of Bt18.1 billion has been allocated to create data, forecasting and warning systems which are efficient and integrated.  A national water information centre will be set up to forecast the up-to-date water situation and issue warnings.

In industrial areas, flood walls, sluice gates and water pumping stations will be built to protect industrial estates. Roads will be built to be also used as dykes.  Soft loans and a Bt50 billion insurance fund will be set up to build confidence among investors.

The prime minister said an integrated water management organisation in a form of single command will be established to handle the whole water management system including improvement of warning system and response to an emergency.

Flood rehabilitation will be improved and public and private participation will be encouraged. Sustainable flood relief action plan targets to adjust water resource management by developing data, forecast and warning systems with a budget of three billion baht.

A budget of Bt60 billion will be allocated for forest and ecosystem rehabilitation and another Bt60 billion for designation of ten water retention areas and assistance for affected people. Extra compensation will be provided people affected by the measure to change about two million rai of areas currently used for irrigation farming into water retention basins during the rainy season.