PM seeks Bt5 billion budget for 100-plus water management projects


AYUTTHAYA, Feb 17 – Expressing confidence that this year’s flood-prevention plan will be more efficient than last year’s performance, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Friday that she will seek an additional budget of Bt5billion to implement 117 water management projects from the Cabinet next week.

Speaking at a news briefing on the last day of her five-day trip to provinces hit by last year’s flooding, Ms Yingluck concluded the trip at Ayutthaya’s city hall where she earlier convened a meeting with officials from seven downstream provinces to discuss water management and flood prevention issues.

The meeting was also attended by Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.

Concluding her trip, accompanied by ministers, to several provinces from the North down to the central provinces devastated by the flood crisis, she said reforestation and check dam construction progress are measures to be focused on for upstream provinces to slow down water flow. In the 14 midway provinces, water flow will be managed through waterways networks and canals will be dredged.

In addition, a 2 million rai water-retention area with a capacity to hold 5 billion cubic metres of water will be acquired with least affect to residential areas. Each province has been assigned to come up with a plan to protect their commercial and historical sites.

Regarding the seven downstream provinces, the premier stated the need to protect both key business zones as well as industrial zones. Water will be diverted through the eastern and western reaches of the Chao Phraya River system. Water pumps will be installed, dykes will be strengthened and damaged sluice gates will be repaired to ensure the fast flow of water into the sea.

Surveillance cameras to be installed at all sluice gates and a satellite reconnaissance system will be used to evaluate and forecast water flows, the prime minister said.

She pledged that all the tasks will be completed within three months ahead of the rainy season.

After the end of her upcountry tour, the premier planned to inspect sluice gates in the capital next week.

Regarding the 5,000 baht compensation slated for each flood-affected household, Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Surasawadi, who also attended the meeting, conceded there was still a problem in the disbursement. He singled out the central province of Pathum Thani where 240,000 out 340,000 households or about 71 per cent have been compensated so far.  It is the lowest rate, he said, compared to other flood-damaged provinces.

Ninety-two per cent of households in Nonthaburi obtained the money and 93 per cent and 94 per cent of households were reported compensated in Nakhon Pathom and in Samut Sakhon respectively.