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Thai Mekong People’s Network takes on China over Mekong River management

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Mekong People’s Network takes on China over Mekong River management | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Airpaz Blog

Local residents and environmentalists living along the Thai banks of the Mekong River spent the weekend in hot debate with the Chinese Embassy about Beijing’s utilisation and management of the River.

While the embassy accused Thai media of spreading false information on China’s development projects in Southeast Asia’s longest rivers, the Thai Mekong People’s Network fought back, saying Beijing was exploiting the Mekong for its own benefits.

The Chinese embassy issued a statement last Friday defending China’s projects in the Mekong – known in China as Lancang – in relation to ecological protection, the blasting of rapids, hydro-power projects and the sharing of hydrological data.

Meanwhile, the group, representing people living along the river in eight Thai provinces, responded by saying the river’s resources have been destroyed and exploited by large corporations. Yet the embassy’s statement claimed China “protects the environment like we protect our eyes and treat the environment like it is our lives”.

It said under the framework of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, six countries have established the Environmental Cooperation Centre and Water Resources Cooperation Centre and “we have also actively engaged in sustainable infrastructure construction, investment and financing.

“With the aim of building a green railway, the China-Laos Railway project has synchronised environmental protection with construction at the stages of design, implementation and inspection, which is hailed by the government and people of the Laos.”

However, the people’s network countered by saying the so-called “green” aspect of the China-Laos railway project is only at the conceptual level, and that there are no concrete plans on how the destruction of natural resources, livelihoods and local economies will be alleviated.

“The project has drawn strong public criticism due to the extensive adverse impacts it is having on the people and the environment.”

As for the blasting of rapids to clear navigation routes from southern China via Myanmar and Thailand to Laos, the embassy said the project was only being studied.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Environment

“Thailand shouldn’t have water problems” – a personal view

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“Thailand shouldn’t have water problems” – a personal view | The Thaiger

OPINION

Post from a concerned Phuket resident who is worried about the future of the island’s most precious resource, fresh water. Despite being surrounded by water, potable water supplies are in peril for the forthcoming high season with lower-than-usual rainfall and the dams still at historically-low levels at the time of publishing this story. The person has asked to be anonymous…

There is NO excuse not to have more catchment areas in the hills and government-owned areas around Phuket. There IS enough rain over the year for everyone, but with the increased growth and construction around Thailand, they have built more hotels and condos and villas which USE the water .

BUT they have NOT expanded and built more water storage catchments! Therefore the higher demand uses the available resources up faster.

The cheapest solution, by far, is NOT desalination or rainwater guttering everywhere (which could help of course), but simply build more catchments. Dig out more of the current water lakes/reservoirs or dam an area in the hills.

(Phuket already has hundreds of small lakes which are left over ‘holes’ from the tin mining which had been conducted around the island for four hundred years but ceased in 1975)

For the farmers in Thailand’s rural areas, more lake-holdings need to be dug to increase the amount of water stored in their areas.

For a country like Thailand to run out of water, when all that is needed is increased water storage, is unacceptable. Thailand HAS the rainfall annually, therefore it needs to be stored whenever it rains, whether that rainfall is late or early! Then connect the new catchments via large irrigation pipes to the existing catchment infrastructure which can then be opened on demand.

As for Phuket, specifically, with its building boom, build more water storage at the same time and add to the already overwhelmed inadequate storage and there should be no more problems.

An earlier story about Phuket’s looming water shortages HERE.

Story about Thailand’s current drought situation HERE.

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Environment

“Worst drought in living memory”, Thai farmers in the north

The Thaiger & The Nation

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“Worst drought in living memory”, Thai farmers in the north | The Thaiger

Parts of Thailand are facing their worst drought in 50 years. Farmers in some parts of the north and north east say that the situation is the “worst in living memory”, as reported in Sanook.

Meanwhile, The Meteorological Department says Thailand will experience the worst drought in at least a decade, with average precipitation across large regions of the country falling far short of the monthly averages.

Sanook reports that rivers and reservoirs are 10% below the levels at the same time last year in Lamphun, just south of the north city of Chiang Mai. Farmers are being urged to be pro-active and collect any rainwater over the next two months because there is unlikely to be enough to go round from the usual irrigation sources in the region.

Sanook also reports that areas around Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand’s north-east are also facing the worst drought in 50 years.

Water levels in large reservoirs stand around 38% capacity in the North, 33% in the North-east, 22% in the Central Plains, 35% in the East, 67% in the West, and 60% in the South, according to figures released by the Office of National Water Resources and published in the Bangkok Post.

In the tourist island of Phuket the three main catchments are all below 10-15% of their capacity as the annual wet season has provided little rain to start filling them up. The island is facing an acute water shortage for the tourist season at the end of the year.

SOURCE: Sanook | Bangkok Post

Phuket’s main water catchment at Bang Wad Dam in Kathu, central Phuket

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Environment

Dengue alert declared in The Philippines

The Thaiger

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Dengue alert declared in The Philippines | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Philippine Star

Dengue cases have doubled in Thailand this year. And in The Philippines a similar situation is unfolding. Health authorities in The Philippines are declaring a national dengue alert after a spike in cases leaving more than 450 people dead since the start of 2019.

Around 100,000 dengue cases were reported across The Philippines in the first six months of 2019, an increase of 85% on the same period last year. This surge in dengue cases comes as the country is grappling with a nationwide measles outbreak, which authorities say has killed more people so far this year than all of 2018 and puts 2.6 million children at risk.

Epidemics of dengue have been declared in Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Northern Mindanao, areas that contain about 20 million people – 20% of The Philippines population. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said 106,630 dengue cases had been reported from January 1 to June 29, 2019 – 85% more than the 57,564 cases reported from the same period in 2018.

While it is most common in tropical and sub-tropical climates such as Te Philippines, India and Brazil, a recent study shows that global rising temperatures caused by the climate change are likely to see mosquitoes which carry dengue – along with other diseases such as chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika – move further north (in the northern hemisphere and south in the southern hemisphere), affecting states in the southern US, inland Australia and coastal areas of China and Japan.

Dengue cases in the Philippines have historically surged every three to four years, and the sharp increase this year is in line with expectations after a spike in cases nationwide in 2016.

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