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  More dams in pipeline as govt keen to find long-term solution

Situation still critical in Phetchabun, Loei

Post reporters, Bangkok Post, September 7, 2002

Two relief workers make their way through waist-deep floodwater which virtually turned a road in Loei's provincial town into a canal. _ CHANAT KATANYU

Thailand may build more dams from next year as a possible long-term solution to flooding.

Deputy Prime Minister Pongpol Adireksarn said yesterday that the committee tackling flood problems in the North had endorsed the Wat Sri Khoam Kham dam project in Phayao province and five small reservoirs in Phitsanulok province.

Authorities would survey flood paths in the two provinces, and their findings would be used by the Town and Country Planning Department in mapping out a master construction plan.

Mr Pongpol also said there had been fresh calls for the government to go ahead with the construction of Kaeng Sua Ten dam project in Phrae to store water from the Yom river. The dam project has been put on hold due to fierce opposition from some locals and environmentalists.

There is no dam on the Yom river which in the past few years has caused severe flooding in Phrae and neighbouring Sukhothai and Phichit provinces.

The Yom River Protection Network has objected to the project, instead suggesting rehabilitation of watershed areas, river dredging and small reservoirs.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said he wants long-term solutions to the problem.

Interior Minister Purachai Piumsombun said development of all river basins would start next year. The Ping river would be the first to be dredged, followed by Wang, Yom, Nan, Chi, Moon and Chao Phraya.

Meanwhile, Loei remained the hardest-hit yesterday among 20 flood-stricken provinces. Officials said if heavy rain continued, the Huay Nam Man reservoir could overflow and people in the area would have to be evacuated.

Land transport out of Loei remained stranded. People wanting to get out of the province had to travel by boat to tambon Pa Nok Khao, Phu Kradung district, to catch inter-provincial buses.

In Phetchabun, the situation remained critical as floods which have inundated thousands of villages along the Pa Sak river and municipal areas showed no sign of receding.

In Sukhothai, governor Amornrat Niratsaikul said the province's historical ruins were safe as they were well protected by its flood prevention system.

In Mae Hong Son, authorities called off their search for 20 Karen refugees who went missing when flash floods hit their camps in Mae Sariang district. The latest official death toll yesterday was 17, with nine people still missing.

The Highways Department said 35 roads in Sukhothai, Mae Hong Son, Tak, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Phichit, Loei, Udon Thani, Maha Sarakham and Nong Bua Lampu remained closed yesterday as they were still under water.


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