Grisada to address water crisis at meeting
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach says he will address 76 provincial governors in a teleconference on Monday to find solutions to cope with the drought, forecast to drag on this year.
Mr Grisada said some academics had indicated the drought this year would last longer than in 2014 and 2015, when a critical drought hit, as the country would be affected by El Nino.
The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has indicated about 24,095 million cubic metres of water is currently kept in dams across the country which is enough to meet supply only until May, he said.
According to him, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was worried about the drought, which appears to have come earlier this year, and urged state organisations to help people and minimise the impact.
It is not sure how long the threat is likely to last.
The minister said rainmaking operations have now kicked off with the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation having set up 20 base stations for the task.
Local officers were also told to inform farmers to grow less-water-intensive crops and refrain from second rice cultivation, Mr Grisada said.
Farmers have turned to maize cultivation for more than 900 rai of farmland following past efforts to promote less-water-intensive crops, he said.
He said he was concerned about areas out of the irrigation zones, saying provincial authorities were told to compile data of various water resources to determine how much longer water would be available.
"If the rainy season comes one or two months later than usual, there must be more stringent measures about the use and the supply of water," Mr Grisada said.
He said a plan was laid out earlier that rice would be grown on only up to 8 million rai of land this year, but it has now reached 11 million rai.
Director of Regional Irrigation Office 8, Kiattisak Nukaew, said five major dams in Nakhon Ratchasima contain about 505 million cubic metres of water, or 50.16% of their retention capacities.
This level is lower than in previous years, he said.
Meanwhile, Lammat River in tambon Prasuk of Chum Phuang district has nearly dried up and people can now walk across the river.
Villagers said they were short of water for consumption.