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Prayut orders provinces to plan for more floods

Facing criticism about preparedness, prime minister points to his current programmes

The government has stepped up its contingency plan to cope with potentially devastating floods in various parts of the country after several Northeastern and Central provinces were badly affected over the past week.

During yesterday’s visit to Nakorn Nayok province, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said provincial authorities, especially those in Southern provinces, need to come up with contingency plans to help residents who could be hit by floods.

The Nakhon Nayok provincial governor, for example, was asked to get ready for a potential flash flood, especially when there are heavy rainfalls outside the catchment areas of irrigation dams. Regarding Southern provinces, he said, local authorities need to have contingency plans focused on helping flood victims.

Over the past week, a total of nine Northeastern provinces and one Central province were hit hard by massive floods, namely, Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin, Nakhon Pathom, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Roi Et, Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Khai, and Ayutthaya. Altogether, 99 districts, 633 tambons and 5,276 villages have been inundated.

The Royal Irrigation Department (RID), meanwhile, has been closely monitoring the conditions of Chi River in the North, especially with regard to the riverbank’s protection walls, which could be damaged by overflows.

Thongplew Kongjun, deputy director-general of the RID, said the big volume of water flowing from the Upper Chi River and Pong River is expected to cause an overflow on the banks of the lower Chi River in Yasothon province over the next two days. In preparation for more floods, local authorities have moved heavy equipment and sandbags to protect residential and commercial areas in Kalasin and other nearby provinces.

Flood protection walls in these provinces have been partially damaged over the past week, resulting in inundation in multiple areas including those of Roi Et province.

To minimise damage to rice farmland in lower northern provinces such as Phitsanulok and Sukhothai, the RID also changed its water management schedule by releasing water to farmers earlier than usual so that they could finish their harvests before the floods came. So far, about 150,000 rai (24,000 hectares) of rice fields have already been harvested while work on another 115,000 rai should be done by the end of September.

In addition, rice farmers were encouraged to start planting seeds earlier than usual so that the RID would release irrigated water to their fields starting April 1, ahead of the start of the rainy season, to avoid potential floods damaging farmland before it was harvested. With less farmland damaged by floods, the government’s budget for subsidies is also reduced.

However, some farmers will still get emergency aid of Bt3,000 per household if they are seriously affected by the current floods.

The Nation

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