Prevention work behind schedule in some areas
CHAI NAT : Governors of lower northern provinces expect the majority of flood prevention projects under way to be finished by next month as demanded by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
In a teleconference with the governors yesterday, she told them to speed up their work and complete the projects in July, though some, like a flood retention area in Phitsanulok, which is scheduled to finish on Aug 13, face delays.
"I'm afraid that [the August deadline] may be too late," she told Phitsanulok governor Chairot Midaeng after hearing his report on how the province's 1.5 billion baht flood-prevention budget was being spent.
Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat and Nakhon Sawan, are located midway in the route which water run-off takes while making its way from the North southward to the Gulf of Thailand.
Besides securing flood retention areas, other flood prevention projects underway this year include dredging canals and building dykes.
Among the six provinces, Kamphaeng Phet has made the most headway. Many projects are finished, said Social Development and Human Security Minister Santi Prompat, who was assigned to oversee flood prevention in the province.
Work in Nakhon Sawan and Chai Nat is about halfway done, but their governors said flood prevention systems would be ready next month.
Phichit is the laggard with only 40% progress to date.
Delays occurred after farmers asked contractors hired to dredge ponds not to drain water because they still needed it for their paddy fields, said Phichit governor Suwit Watcharothayangkun.
But, he said, the contractors have said they can finish the work on time.
"However, if they cannot keep their promises, we may need to change contractors," Ms Yingluck told him.
"We can also ask for help from the army which also has potential to carry out construction work."
After the meeting, the premier led ministers and officials to inspect the Bueng Khi Laeng flood retention area in Phitsanulok's Bang Rakam district, which was badly hit by last year's floods.
Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi told officials to clearly demarcate the retention area, covering 267 rai of land, after listening to their concerns over possible encroachment by local villagers later.
Meanwhile, ongoing floods have ravaged houses and farmland in the northern and southern regions and threaten to hit more provinces.
In Sukhothai's Muang district 120 homes were flooded in Ban Wang Pho Moo 5 in tambon Yang Sai and Ban Lat Sai Mun Moo 2 in tambon Pak Phra after water from the Yom River broke through a dyke.
Resident Amnuay Onpom, 62, was killed in the deluge yesterday.
Water run-off from the North, triggered by heavy downpours, has also reached Phitsanulok's Bang Rakam district and is expected arrive in Phichit in a few days, said Mr Suwit.
He warned people living near the Yom River in Sam Ngam, Pho Prathap Chang, Pho Thale and Bung Na Rong districts to brace for flash floods.
In the South, which was slammed by heavy rainfall earlier this month, flash floods damaged large swathes of farmland. In Surat Thani alone, more than 26,000 rai were under water, said governor Choetsak Chusi.
Up to 15 provinces countrywide have borne the brunt of the downpour and many people in nine provinces _ Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Prachin Buri, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phangnga, Krabi, Ranong and Chumphon _ have been struggling against floods, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.
By Aekarach Sattaburuth
14 June 2012
Fast currents from the overflowing Yom River submerge houses and farmland in Ban Wang Pho Moo 5 of Sukhothai’s Muang district yesterday. The heavy flooding was triggered by the collapse of a dyke along the river. A 62-year-old man drowned after falling into the floodwater in front of his house. PHUBAS FAITES