Thai Govt mulls urgent water plans

Construction News

The cabinet has discussed implementing an urgent water management project worth in excess of 100 billion baht to tackle drought and floods.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said after the cabinet meeting yesterday the project, estimated to cost about 110 billion baht, was tabled for discussion. It will be an urgent undertaking as the country is expected to suffer drought and a likely water shortage next year.

He said the government has set aside about 50 billion baht for the project. The Finance Minister will find ways to obtain the remaining 60 billion baht.

Gen Prayut said the project will focus on problems that are looming large. However, overhauling the water management of the entire country will require a lot more money, possibly several hundred billion baht since it will involve developing 25 water basins.

He said the overhaul would not be carried out in modules, as had been planned by the previous government.

After the severe 2011 floods, the previous Yingluck Shinawatra administration came up with ambitious water management projects worth 350 billion baht.

The projects comprised nine construction modules, including large floodways, flood barriers, a series of reservoirs, and a data management system. Bidding for the work was done, and the construction contractors chosen.

However, the 350-billion-baht scheme hit a snag at the public hearings stage.

Gen Prayut said yesterday it was vital to know how much water was available nationwide for agriculture and consumption. He said no more than seven million rai comprised irrigated land while the actual land being farmed comes to more than double that amount, which means the country’s water reserves are being severely strained.

He said a water shortage was imminent and authorities must figure out how to prevent it and also how to store rain water.