Drought in 42 provinces under close watch

Drought in 42 provinces under close watch

The national drought monitoring centre is keeping a close watch on 42 provinces at risk of running out of water for household and other essential use, permanent secretary for agriculture Theerapat Prayoonsit said.

Mr Theerapat said the centre is chaired by Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikulya and is also manned by the Interior Ministry staff including provincial governors of the respective provinces.

The centre is keeping a close watch on the sitution in the 42 provinces and was ready to provide help if they run out of household water, he said.  He did not name the 42 provinces.

"In general, water in major dams is, with proper management, still sufficient for consumption, pushing out brackish water and maintaining the eco-system throughout the dry season until the rain arrives, possibly in July.

"Therefore people should not worry, but they do need to use water wisely," he said.

Mr Theerapat said rainmaking will begin during the Songkran Festival in April when weather conditions are expected to be right.

Darongkorn Somton, director of the 12th Irrigation Office in Chai Nat province,said thatin the Chao Phraya River basin, the the four major dams -- Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwae Noi Bamrungdaen and Pasak Jolasid -- now have a total of 2.9 billion cubic metres of water available for use.

The four dams are releasing altogether 17 million cu/m of water every day.  This means the water in store will be enough for geneal consumption until the end of July, about 148 more days, he said.

In Sukhothai province, the Yom River began to dry up in January. Banana trees on more than 1,500 rai of plantations in tambon Khlong Krachong of Sawan Khalok district, which usually generate about 100 million baht a month, have died.  The Yom River is expected to be completely dry by the end of March.

Banana farmers have been particularly hard hit by this year's drought, Mr Darongkorn added.

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