Thai Gov’t Sanctions: Six Water Projects ‘Are Ready’ for Construction

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At least six projects under the Thai government’s Bt 350-billion ($11 billion USD) water and flood management scheme are now ready for construction, according to the Royal Irrigation Department. (The Nation)

The six projects include the flood diversion channel on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, the Water and Flood Information Center and four dam projects.

Meanwhile, the Council of State’s secretary-general, Atchaporn Jarujinda, said that the recent Central Administrative Court verdict ordering the government to conduct public hearing, environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental and health impact assessment (EHIA) would not be an obstacle to implementing the water mega-projects.

The state legal body will ask the National Environmental Board to clarify the projects on which the EIA and EHIA needed to conducted.

Under the government’s Bt 350-billion water and flood management scheme, irrigation department director-general Lertviroj Kowattana said about five projects had already undergone the feasibility study and EIA for construction as required by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Water and Flood Information Centre is not required to conducted the EIA and is expected to go ahead with the plan soon, he said.

Lertiviroj said that the irrigation department had already completed the feasibility study for the flood diversion channel on the eastern route of Chao Phraya River, and the project could take off as soon as the government signs the contract with the bid winners.

According to the feasibility study, the length of the flood diversion channel on the east bank of Chao Phraya is about 135.20 kilometres, starting from Chainart, Singburi, Angthong, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Ayutthaya, Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao, and Samut Prakan.

Lertiviroj said most of the flood diversion channel areas on this route will be located to irrigation areas but these areas have been encroached upon by local people.

“The irrigation department might file a lawsuit against people who have been encroaching on the irrigation area, which will be used to build the flood diversion channel. We might pay them some compensation for the demolition,” he said.

Dams get the go-ahead

Besides the flood diversion channel on the east bank of Chao Phraya, four dam projects – Uttaradit’s Bt575-million Huay Phang-Nga reservoir, with a capacity of 11.33 million cubic metres; the Bt445-million Huay Tha Phon reservoir in Phetchabun; and Chaiyabhum’s Bt395 million Chi and Yang Na Di dam – are ready for construction.

These four dams are among 21 dams listed under the government’s water mega-projects.

Meanwhile, about nine reservoir projects are required to conduct the EIA. The projects are: Mae Tip and Huay Pong Phak in Lampang; Phrae’s Mae Lang, Phayao’s Nam Ngim; Phitsanulok’s Wang Chom Phu; Uttaradit’s Nam Pad; Lamphun’s Huay Tang; Kamphaengphet’s Klong Klung Lang; and Chiang Mai’s Mae Khan.

Three other big dams such as Phrae’s Lower and Upper Yom and Chiang Mai’s Mae Chaem are required to conduct EHIA according to the Constitution’s article 67(2).

Stop Global Warming Association Srisuwan Janya yesterday submitted an open letter to Prime Minister YingluckShinawatra, urging the government to cancel the Bt350 billion water and flood management scheme. He reasoned that this was in violation of the Constitution and lacked people participation.

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