The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will closely monitor implementation of the government's multi-billion-baht flood prevention projects.
Vicha Mahakun, a member of the NACC, said yesterday that the commission would form a sub-committee to monitor the implementation of the projects, with NACC member Medhi Krongkaew in charge of the mission.
The NACC will also ask the private sector Anti-Corruption Network Alliance to watch out for corruption in the projects, as the government will hold bidding contests with special procedures the agency believes may enable graft.
He added that the NACC would study the terms of reference for the projects and warn the government of the possibilities of corruption beforehand. It would be more difficult to deal with graft after it has already happened, he said.
Pramont Sutheewong, chairman of the alliance, said the NACC tries to prevent government corruption while the alliance works in the private sector.
The alliance will also study the terms of reference of the projects, present its reservations and recommendations and encourage parties to protect the projects from corruption.
Mr Pramont said procedures for the bidding contests would be reduced because the projects were urgent.
Fewer steps before a contractor is approved would create more opportunities for corruption, he said.
Flood expert Seree Supradit said the government has prepared three manuals that outline comprehensive and sustainable water resources development plans along the Chao Phraya River, for eight projects worth 300 billion baht.
The manuals also outline 17 projects along small rivers and tributaries in the Northeast and six projects in the South, worth a combined 50 billion baht.
"We are all hoping for the implementation of the 350 billion baht budget," Mr Seree said.
"But it will take two years to conduct health and environmental impact assessments and another two years to finish the projects, which will not do anything [to prevent] flooding this year."
He said even if the plan is implemented on time, it could prevent flooding only in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.
"Even though the government has outlined a plan to prevent flooding, it is too late for this year, and Bangkok will definitely be flooded if the amount of rainfall is the same as last year," said Mr Seree, director of Rangsit University's Climate Change and Disaster Centre.
"However, we don't expect the water amount to be as much as last year, so the worst case we will probably have is a recurrence of the 2006 floods.
"Bangkok will not be flooded, but there will be problems in Ayutthaya and Lop Buri provinces," he said.
This year more than 40 storms are expected, but the extent to which they may cause flooding remains to be seen, Mr Seree said.
He warned that while the government is focusing most of its attention on flood prevention, there is a possibility of a drought next year.
He made the comments on the sidelines of a seminar on water management held by the Federation of Thai Industries' Water Institute for Sustainability yesterday.
At the seminar, Supoj Towijakchaikul, secretary-general of the Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy, said the government's 350 billion baht budget is reasonable.
From 1989 to 2010, there were only six years during which damage from floods exceeded 10 billion baht, he said.
Aggregate damage for the 20-year period was 146 billion baht, a mere 10% of the 1.4 trillion baht in total damage from last year's floods.
"The problem the government faces is whether or not it will be able to execute its plan. If it is, then there will be no flooding," said Mr Supoj, who is also deputy permanent secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.
About the author
- Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth
Position: News Reporter