PM Prayut concerned over drought situation

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BANGKOK – Drought was one of the recurring issues in Thailand last year. At present, the quantity of water in UbolRatana and other major reservoirs in the northeastern region is low. The Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has expressed concern over the water situation and has instructed officials to assist people promptly in affected areas and encourage farmers to delay their planting.

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The Government Spokeswoman, Prof. Dr. NarumonPinyosinwat, said the Prime Minister received a report that the water level in the Mekong River is at its lowest level since 1992. The river’s level in Chiang Rai and Loei provinces has increased slightly, but is expected to decrease in the next few days. Lower water levels are also expected in NongKhai, Mukdahan and UbonRatchathani provinces.

The Prime Minister ordered relevant agencies to distribute water to people in drought-hit areas and locate underground water sources quickly. Farmers are encouraged to delay their planting at this time and follow the guidance of local officials. Members of the public are encouraged to use water sparingly.

The Director-General of the Royal Irrigation Department, Dr. ThongplewKongjun, said several major reservoirs in the Northeast have low water levels. They include UbolRatana in KhonKaen province, Chulabhorn in Chaiyaphum province and Lam PhraPhloeng in Nakhon Ratchasima province. The water level in UbolRatana reservoir is 496 million cubic meters, or just 20% of its capacity, as local people are now drawing water directly from the reservoir. With many areas having seen no rain for weeks, relevant agencies have to excavate canals and use groundwater.

Dr. Thongplew said there is sufficient water for consumption, but everyone has to cooperate by using water sparingly until the rainy season arrives in July.