Thailand's Cabinet resolves to form new water management agency

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The cabinet on Tuesday agreed to set up a single command agency to boost the efficiency of the country’s water and natural disaster management, said government spokesperson Thitima Chaisaeng on Tuesday.

Ms Thitima, who is also the prime minister’s deputy secretary-general for political affairs, said the new agency will comprise two committees.

The National Committee for Water and Flood Policy chaired by the prime minister will supervise policy planning of water management. It will be advised by the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM).

Another committee on water and flood management, chaired by a deputy prime minister or a minister, will be set up to execute the action plan in accordance with the policy formulated by the national committee for water and flood policy.

Ms Thitima said the government also agreed to set up the office of water resources and flood policy and management in order to integrate and implement all policies. The office will be run by its secretary-general appointed by the premier and is supervised by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Woravit Champeerat, director of the Bureau of the Budget, said the new office will implement the government’s policies. The urgent task is to prepare water-retention areas and lay out the water management plan.

Mr Woravit explained that the water-retention areas will involve land occupied by householders and farmers and their cooperation is needed, while each province must prepare for the construction of projects to prevent flooding this year.

The director said the Budget Bureau also proposed that e-auction project procurement for water resources management should be complete within 28 days, while any urgent investment project could be done under a special procurement to allow implementation of the project as soon as it can.

In related developments, ministers will travel to provinces next week to follow up work of the water management committee and post-flood rehabilitation.

Speaking after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the cabinet agreed with a plan for the ministers’ field trip scheduled for Feb 13-17 to observe operations and cooperation between the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM) and local officials as they are working on plans to designate water retention areas to prevent flooding.

The group will inspect progress in post-flood rehabilitation processes and problems in each province from upstream northern provinces downward to the capital.

Regarding compensation to be allocated for residents whose land is designated as a water retention area, Ms Yingluck said a framework has been laid out.

What needs to know is that the plans drawn for each province by the SCWRM must have the least impact on local residents, she said. Details on payment of compensation for affected residents will be announced later pending discussions to prevent misunderstanding.

“(The government) can assure you that we certainly have compensation measures to look after residents in the affected areas. All plans will be discussed on-site in each province,” she said.

The prime minister declined to specify how large the water-retention area will cover, but said actually, villagers in some areas acknowledge the plan. The not-yet-designated areas are mostly low-lying and non-residential areas which are often flooded.

“We will talk to local residents to create understanding first before we announce the designated areas,” she said.  


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