Drought arrives at several provinces in North, Northeast


CHIANG RAI, Feb 12 – Drought began to hit several northern and northeastern provinces of Thailand, affecting local residents and their farming.

In the northernmost province of Chiang Rai, drought, combined with the closure of sluice gates in China’s Yunnan province for maintenance, has caused the water level in Mekong River at Chiang Saen district to decrease so dramatically that sand dunes can be seen.

Commuter boats are affected from dry river, as well as from sand pumping operations by a private Lao company.

In the northeastern province of Sakhon Nakhon, Nam Un Dam will be closed on March 31 and its water release operations will be suspended to allow the maintenance of canals which have stored water for farming.

Farmers, once they learned about the planned dam closure, are speeding up pumping water into their rice fields, while a survey found that the amount of farming in the province has exceeded the target up to 20 per cent.

Operators who dig ground water in the province have made good income up to Bt50,000 each month as people queued up to store water for their use.

In nearby Buri Ram province, water has been distributed to residents, temples, schools in 22 villages of Nong Tad Municipality who have suffered from drought.

Local authorities are seeking Bt20 million budget from many agencies for dredging the river shoals and other water resources, as well as preparing to produce tap water for year round use.