(March 9, 2011) The cabinet has decided not to open the gates of the Pak Moon dam all year round for five years as some people in the Moon River basin fear it will cause drought in upstream areas.
The cabinet yesterday discussed the request for the year-round opening of the dam gates from a group of farmers and fishermen called the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move).
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said afterward the cabinet was still worried about the water level in the Moon River if its gates were opened all year round. He said the government had to take care of all groups of people. If the dam gates are opened all year long and the river dries up, there will be hardship to not only fishermen but also people who benefit from the water that is withheld.
“This issue must be discussed with reason,” Mr Abhisit said. “If they are opened today and the river dries up, who will take responsibility? Who will gain? No one will. If we wait until the rainy season, the dam gates will be opened then anyway.
“When information about the appropriate level of the river is clear, the dam gates can be opened as long as the level of the river is promising.”
He said normally the gates of the Pak Moon dam were opened for four months from June to September every year and an early opening might be unnecessary.
Yesterday, the cabinet ordered the Pak Moon dam committee to conclude its study on the proper level of the Moon River within 45 days.
PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey denied that the cabinet was buying time. He said it wanted clear information before making a decision.
The minister said existing information on the proper level of the Moon River was based on the normal condition of the Mekong River but the Mekong was now critically low and as much as 11 metres below the level of the Moon River.
The Moon River is a Mekong tributary.
In another development, rice farmers ended their blockade on the Asian Highway in front of the Ayutthaya provincial hall yesterday. They will wait for the prime minister to discuss solutions to their problems with provincial governors on Friday.
The farmers are demanding the government increase the insured price for rice and boost the amount of rice under its price insurance scheme.
Bangkok Post, March 9, 2011
Categories: Mekong Utility Watch