Govt eyes water diversion

Govt eyes water diversion

Mekong, Moei and Salween on the radar

The Mekong is one of the three rivers being considered by the government from which to channel water for the irrigation system. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
The Mekong is one of the three rivers being considered by the government from which to channel water for the irrigation system. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

The government is considering a plan to bring water from the Mekong, Moei and Salween rivers to farmland in Thailand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday.

Drought, which is still ravaging 48 districts in nine provinces, has prompted the need for better solutions to the chronic problem affecting farmers.

''We need to study all possibilities and gather information useful in integrating Thailand's irrigation system,'' the prime minister said in his weekly national televised programme, Bringing Happiness to Thai People.

Gen Prayut mentioned the four rivers as possible feeders of water to farmland in the country but said the government had to negotiate with other countries first.

"We may need to bring water from the Salween, Moei and Mekong rivers for the maximum benefits of our country,'' he said.

Diverting water from bordering rivers is an option outlined in a comprehensive scheme to sustainably tackle agricultural water shortage. The programme is projected to be completed in 2026.

The Salween and Moei form the boundary between Thailand and Myanmar. Part of the Mekong also separates Thailand from Laos. The Mekong lower basin is regulated by the Mekong River Commission comprising Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

This is not the first time Thailand is looking to neighbouring countries for water resources to keep its farmland well irrigated.

The late prime minister Samak Sundaravej also proposed a water-diversion project from the Mekong when he was in power in 2008. The plan, however, faced strong opposition from environmentalists in and outside Thailand. Other governments sharing the river also gave Thailand the cold shoulder and the scheme was eventually scrapped.

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