PM eyes S44 powers to tackle water crisis
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PM eyes S44 powers to tackle water crisis

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he is considering using special powers under Section 44 of the interim charter to address water management problems across the country.

Speaking yesterday at a seminar to mark World Water Day, Gen Prayut said he wanted all 19 ministries including the ministries of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Interior, Commerce, and Education to help develop a fully integrated water management plan.

In addition, state agencies have been told to establish clear water management objectives.

Section 44 powers are needed to speed up the process, he said.

Cooperation ensures officials are on the same track and come up with positive results, he said, adding every ministry is involved in water management to some extent.  

Some ministries had tried to tackle water problems with varying degrees of success, but most of these were piecemeal approaches to the problem.

Gen Prayut said resolving water problems would improve the livelihoods of the people.  

Meanwhile, the Department of Water Resources has downplayed public concerns over the prospects of severe drought this year.

Suphot Tovichakchaikul, department director-general, said the government has a policy to release water from dams with the priority going to water for public consumption, followed by water for ecosystem preservation and the agricultural and industrial sectors.

It is true the country has a limited amount of water left in its main dams, but saving measures will help the country secure sufficient water supplies for consumption until the rainy season begins in the middle of the year. "The power of the social media is very strong. Many people panic after reading inaccurate information on Line and Facebook," he said.

Mr Suphot said the drought this year is no worse than past years. As of yesterday, the areas declared as drought disaster zones comprise 2,576 villages in 18 provinces, 3.44% of all villages nationwide, compared to 6,985 villages in 28 provinces (9.32%) in the same period last year and 7,981 villages in 28 provinces (10.65%) in 2014.

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand says water storage levels in Bhumibol dam in Tak province will last until Aug 5 and water in Sirikit dam in Uttaradit will last until July 28, enough to take the country through to the rainy season.

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