The National Water Resources Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha agreed on Wednesday (Aug 9) to transfer the Water Resources Department from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The transfer of the Water Resources Department to come under the supervision of the PM’s Office is an attempt of the government to increase the efficiency in water management by putting all relevant agencies managing water resources in all aspects, including water for consumption, agriculture, ecological conservation, flood prevention and drought to come under one roof.
The prime minister reportedly told the committee meeting on Wednesday that Thailand could not afford to remain at risk of flooding and drought year in year out as the state will have to spend tens of billion baht each year to shoulder the loss caused by flood and drought without gaining anything.
Floodwater has to be drained out into the sea which is a complete waste of water, said the prime minister, adding that it is, therefore, necessary that management of flood and drought are included into the national agenda on top of water management for consumption, agriculture and ecological conservation.
The prime minister noted that the expanded water resources management needs not have to start from zero, but to be carried on with the existing plans with a new plan for the next year to be drawn up with emphasis on addressing flood and drought problems and the upgrading of the status of the Department of Water Resources.
While admitting that addressing flood problem is an uphill task because it concerns people’s land and their resistance, he said that it is essential that the people must be made to understand that they may have to change their farming occupation because their land is often flooded.
The department chief Mr Worasart Apaipong said that in order to transfer his department to the PM’s Office, the prime minister must invoke Section 44 of the interim constitution to effect the change.
He added that the department would draw up a comprehensive flood prevention plan for the entire Northeast so that the Sakon Nakhon flooding will not recur.