BANGKOK, February 8, 2015 (TSR) – The eight provinces are: Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Lop Buri, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Sawan, Sukhothai, Sakon Nakhon and Buri Ram, the deputy permanent secretary for the Interior Ministry, Jarin Jakapak, said following a press conference at Government House.
Lertviroj Kowattana, the RID director-general, rated the water-retention situation in the country’s reservoirs as the worst in 15 years, despite his assurance that the remaining water will be enough for public consumption throughout the year if it is managed efficiently.
Department of Groundwater Resources director-general Praneet Roibang warned that water shortages were expected to affect 31 more provinces.
The official did not list the other provinces. However, the department said earlier that other provinces facing water shortages this year include Kanchanaburi, Chai Nat, Suphan Buri, Prachin Buri, Chanthaburi and Chachoengsao.
Other provinces include Chon Buri, Trat, Sa Kaeo, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Tak, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surin, Nong Khai, Roi Et and Si Sa Ket.
Senior officials from various government agencies involved in disaster management held a press conference at Government House Thursday to assess the situation and work out measures to fight water shortages after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier warned the country could be facing the most severe drought in years.
In response to the growing drought threat, Mr Jarin said a budget of 1.4 billion baht has been allocated for the development of water resources that he believed will help ease the impact of drought.
Provincial governors and district office chiefs are now instructed to lead the fight against drought problems in their areas, Mr Jarin said.
These state officials are also asked to communicate with the public regarding water management measures being implemented in their areas, he said.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry also assured that it is well prepared to handle a drought crisis this year.
Water resources in the Chao Phraya and Mae Klong rivers as well as in 10 major dams are being managed carefully to ensure sufficient water supplies for public consumption throughout the dry season, said Wimol Janthararothai, deputy permanent secretary for agriculture and cooperatives.
Since November last year, the department has begun asking for cooperation from farmers to avoid engaging in off-season rice farming and it has now succeeded in cutting off-season rice growing areas by half, he said.
From the usual 12.16 million rai of rice-growing area, the actual amount of off-season rice growing land available now has been reduced to only 6.5 million rai, he said.
The department only just missed its target of cutting off-season rice-growing areas to 6 million rai, Mr Wimol said.
And to cushion the impact of a drought on those who cooperate with the government by avoiding conducting off-season rice farming, the government has come up with a job creation programme that is expected to benefit more than 32,000 people.
Meanwhile, Amnuay Rodpracha, 57, a representative of drought-affected residents in Moo 4 of tambon Bueng Rak Nam in Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi district, said the local residents are suffering from an acute shortage of water needed for farming activities.
Mr Amnuay said the shortage started over two months ago when water from the main canal called Khlong 12 stopped flowing into sub-canals from where the residents diverted water into their farms.