The cabinet on Tuesday approved in principle the Agriculture Ministry's plan to proceed with a 17.6-billion-baht flood control canal in Ayutthaya to help limit the impact of massive flooding and economic losses in the central region.
Known as Bang Ban-Bang Sai canal, the scheme would involve the construction of a 23km canal from Bang Ban district to Bang Sai district, a two-lane road along both sides, sluice gates, and other structures, said assistant government spokesman Col Atisith Chainuvati.
He said the flood canal would be instrumental in water management for the central provinces below the Chao Phraya reservoir to the Gulf of Thailand.
Its primary function was to divert floodwater away from inner parts of Ayutthaya at 1,200 cubic metres per second, he said.
More than 220,000 rai of farmland in five districts of Ayutthaya -- Bang Ban, Bang Sai, Bang Pa-in, Phak Hai, and Sena -- and Pa Mok district in Angthong would be spared from severe flooding.
According to Col Atisith, the canal would have a holding capacity of 25 million cubic metres and could serve as a water resource for local villagers on both sides.
He said the next step is for the ministry to survey and design the flood canal and acquire the land necessary for construction of the canal and other structures.
The project design and land acquisition are expected to be completed in 2019 and the entire project will be submitted to the cabinet for approval.
The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) completed the feasibility study of the Bang Ban-Bang Sai flood canal last year.
The project design stage would require the RID to work with residents to minimise the effect on their livelihoods.
The scheme is designed as an urgent phase of the water management plan for the province.
Col Atisith said the cabinet instructed the ministry to strictly comply with constitutional requirements and regulations as it proceeds.
Meanwhile, the cabinet also approved a budget of 2.295 billion baht for the implementation of the so-called 9101 project which brings together aid on a broad front including career rehabilitation help for farmers recently affected by flooding.
The fund, which would be drawn from the 2016 fiscal budget, is expected to help 450,000 households in 43 provinces ravaged by floods brought by tropical storms Sonca and Talas.
Also Tuesday, besides the Bang Ban-Bang Sai canal, the cabinet discussed other water management plans for Ayutthaya and nearby provinces including solving the problems of recurring floods and salty water.
To solve salty water problems in Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram, construction of 20 water gates was proposed for Mae Klong and Tha Chin River areas.
While the RID already has a plan to do so, the cabinet told it to expedite its work.