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Thai PM has “grave concerns”, orders army to be on standby over drought in north

The Thaiger

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Thai PM has “grave concerns”, orders army to be on standby over drought in north | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai army water trucks are on standby to help northern farmers

Acknowledging the severity of the potential crisis looking over northern and north-eastern provinces, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is instructing the armed forces to provide help to areas affected by drought, a situation which may be made worse by the test run of the new Xayaburi dam on the Laos section of the Mekong River.

PM Prayut has expressed “grave concern” over the drought situation, according to an assistant defence spokesman.

Eight provinces located along the river in the two regions – Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen, Chiang Rai, Loei, Nong Khai, Beung Kan – are likely to be the worst affected if the hydroelectric trial continues until the scheduled July 29. The trials started last Monday.

On Friday, the Office of National Water Resources took the unusual step of writing to the Lao government, asking it to suspend the tests, citing unforeseen side effects of the dam project on the Mekong.

The 1,260-megawatt Xayaburi dam, located south of Luang Prabang, Laos, is scheduled to begin producing electricity in three months, with the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand being the dam’s largest customer. The only legal political party in Laos is the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.

Thai PM has

The controversial Xayaburi dam project in Laos has endured strong local protests during its construction – AsiaNews

The new leadership at the Thai Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry plans a series of measures to deal with the imminent drought situation. Among them is a reduction in the release volume of water from two key dams in the North, expected to save 10 million rai of rice paddies in the Central Region from going dry.

Other relief measures include sending army water trucks to drought-affected areas. The air force will also work with agriculture officials to make artificial rain near reservoirs which continue to suffer from low water levels.

Arthit Phanasun, heading up a Nong Khai environmental group says many areas in his province have seen no rain for over a month even though it should have been a soaking wet period.

“Rain is now a past memory,” according to the Bangkok Post.

He noted that Nong Khai’s Muang district, on the Thai side of the Mekong, now sees its riverbank extend almost to the middle of a section of the river, following the recent rapid decrease in its water level.

Farmers in Nakhon Ratchasima are also suffering. Their rice crops in paddy fields covering almost 200,000 rai in Phimai district are wilting and dying as the severe drought takes a toll.

Governor Wichian Chantharanothai yesterday reported that water sources in the district are running dry.

In Phuket, the three main dam catchments are all below 10% of their full levels, a surprise to local water board officials given that the southern wet season is now more than halfway over and the dams would be well on their way to filling up at this stage.

The Office of National Water Resources lists Phuket as the province in the country at second highest risk of running out of water in the next 12 months.

The Director of Phuket Provincial Irrigation Office, Somsawat Chaisinsorn, has admitted in a Facebook post “that there’s not enough water on this island”.

Thai PM has

SOURCES: Bangkok Post | The Nation | Asian Review | The Thaiger

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Environment

New controls on three toxic agri-chemicals take effect on October 20

Greeley Pulitzer

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New controls on three toxic agri-chemicals take effect on October 20 | The Thaiger

A number of ministers and officials are vowing to continue pushing for a ban on three controversial agri-chemicals – Paraquat, Glyphosate and Chlorpyrifos – all still widely used in Thai agriculture.

Meanwhile, strict measures on using the three chemicals, announced on April 5 and set take effect on October 20, have brought cheers from consumers and NGOs but protests from some farmers, who claim they still need to use the such chemicals.

When the new measures come into effect, farmers will have to provide certification that they have been trained on how to properly use the pesticides and herbicides, the crops they will be used on, and the area – all to calculate the amount of chemicals to be purchased. The person spraying the pesticides must be licenced, and shops may sell to registered and only tested farmers only. Manufacturers, importers and exporters must inform officials about production, import or export processes, and the purpose of possession.

The director-general of Agriculture Agency said farmers who still needed to use the three chemicals could apply for the training course with the government agency at any time.

Meanwhile, the president of the Agribusiness Association of Thai People reported that that in 2018, the country imported 170,000 tonnes of agricultural substances worth 3.62 billion baht – a decrease from 2017 imports of 198,000 tonnes.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Bhumjaithai ministers will quit if herbicides are not banned

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Bhumjaithai ministers will quit if herbicides are not banned | The Thaiger

Lobbying is intensifying over a final decision to ban three controversial herbicides – paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos. With farmers, agri-business interests, environmental activists and social media all putting pressure on decision-makers to sway their decision, the biggest pressure is from within the ruling Palang Pracharat government.

Increasing pressure is now being applied to the National Hazardous Substances Committee after the Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the Bhumjaithai party’s ministers, who oversee the use of the herbicide trio, will resign if the committee does not decide to completely ban the three toxic chemicals.

The resignation of the minority partys’ Ministers from the coalition government would force Palang Pracharat into risky minority government territory where they would lose any no-confidence motion.

Speaking at a hotel in the southern province of Phatthalung, along with six other Bhumjaithai party MPs, Mr. Anutin reaffirmed the party’s demand, in the public interest, for a complete ban on the herbicides.

He said that two representatives of the Health ministry, who sit on the NHSC, will definitely vote to ban the substances as he called on the committee for an open vote, instead of a secret ballot as it had done in the past.

According to Thai PBS World, when asked about the opinion of Mr. Chadha Thaiseth, an MP from Uthai Thani province and elder brother of Deputy Agriculture Minister Mananya Thaiseth who suggested the party’s ministers overseeing the use of the herbicides must resign if they are not banned, the deputy prime minister said they were ready to quit “if we cannot control those people.”

Mr. Anutin did not elaborate which ministers should quit, but it is understood he was referring to himself and Ms. Mananya.

The National Hazardous Substances Committee is yet to set the date for a final decision on the ban.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Bhumjaithai ministers will quit if herbicides are not banned | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul

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ASEAN

Two more Thai marine parks declared ASEAN heritage parks

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Two more Thai marine parks declared ASEAN heritage parks | The Thaiger

PHOTO: bluestars.info

“The two marine parks are Thailand’s fifth and sixth to be given the status of ASEAN heritage parks.”

Two southern Thailand national parks have been recognised as ASEAN heritage parks at this week’s 15th ASEAN environment ministers’ meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the home of Angkor Wat. Warawut Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, told reporters the ASEAN environment ministers voted unanimously to designate Haad Chao Mai-Koh Libong No-hunting Zone and Ang Thong marine parks as the 45th and 46th ASEAN heritage parks.

Ang Thong Marine Park, west of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, is made up of 42 islands rich in natural diversity, with a rare orchid, the Venus slipper, only available in the park. It is also the feeding ground for Bryde or Bruda whales, bottlenose dolphins and green turtles.

Haad Chao Mai-Koh Libong No-hunting Zone Marine Park, off Trang province, is rich in sea grass and corals and is the feeding ground of dugongs.

The two marine parks are Thailand’s fifth and sixth to be given the status of ASEAN heritage parks after Khao Yai National Park, Tarutao, Surin-Similan-Similan-Phang-nga Bay marine parks and the Kaeng Krachan forest complex in Kanchanaburi province.

To qualify as ASEAN heritage parks, they must meet certain criteria, such as ecological richness, natural characteristics, regional representation, high conservation importance, proper management, cross-boundary characteristics and connectivity between cultures and the ecological system and natural diversity.

Two more Thai marine parks declared ASEAN heritage parks | News by The Thaiger Two more Thai marine parks declared ASEAN heritage parks | News by The Thaiger

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