Experts have warned that the government's 350-billion-baht water management and flood prevention project could face legal and construction hurdles as it has neglected to conduct thorough studies about the scheme's impact.
The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) organised a discussion on the project yesterday, where EIT president Suwat Chaopreecha said the implementation of the scheme has been wrong from the start.
Problems were likely to arise which could stall the project if it was started immediately. He said the government has not conducted impact assessments of the project, leaving it vulnerable to unforeseen problems at construction sites as well as to lawsuits.
He said problems might include some that will require the government to change the design of the project.
The government has asked six investor groups to participate in bids for the mega project, which has been divided into 10 modules. The winners will be announced on March 15.
Pramote Maiklad, former director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, said the government had only conceptual plans for water management.
It still lacks details on how to bring about the plans. The government could find later that some conceptual plans cannot be implemented.
Subin Pinkayan, president of the Thai Hydrologist Association, said he is concerned that only one committee will oversee the bidding contests for the 10 water management and flood prevention contracts.
Prasert Phothiwichian, an executive member of the association, said the government could not complete the project in five years as planned and had not conducted impact assessment as required by the constitution.
Bancha Kwanyuen, dean of the engineering faculty of Kasetsart University's Kamphaeng Saen campus, said state agencies have failed to learn the lessons of the 2011 floods.
The government is still determined to press ahead with infrastructure projects but has lost sight of the management problems that contributed to the devastation in 2011. Stopping encroachment on waterways would help solve flooding, as water would be able to flow naturally.
Apichart Anukul-ampai, a member of a sub-committee under the government's Water Management and Flood Prevention Commission, said water and flood management needs a new approach.
He said the masterplan for water management, proposed by the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management, has its merits.
Impact assessment studies will be conducted once the projects are underway, as they are required by law and are also required as part of the terms of reference.
He insisted his sub-committee will make the best decisions in the interests of the country.
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- Writer: Patsara Jikkham