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Low rain spurs fear of drought in North

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Low rain spurs fear of drought in North | The Thaiger
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– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Low rain spurs fear of drought
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Despite being in the middle of the wet season, there are already fears of drought in the North, as the volume of rain has been unseasonably low, leaving two key dams in the region partially empty. In addition, the unusually infrequent rains in the Northeast are causing the same problem with water reservoirs in the region.

The situation in the Northeast province of Nakhon Ratchasima is worse than in Tak and Uttaradit, where Bhumibol Dam and Sirikit Dam are located respectively, as the release of water from the dams would be heavily limited due to a lower level of rain in October.

October is usually peak of the wet season in Thailand.

The situation in the Central region is slightly better, where the volume of rainwater is not very low in most areas, including Kanchanaburi where Srinagarindra and Vajiralongkorn dams are located. These dams will still be able to release enough water for irrigation by the year’s end, provided the volume of rain remains constant, Thanarat Phummakasikorn, director of Srinagarindra Dam, said.

Phisut Chokekhatiwat, director of Tak’s Bhumibol Dam, said the reservoir contained a little over 100 million cubic metres of water at a time when the amount is usually three times higher.

Suthep Lertsrimongkhol, director of Sirikit Dam in Uttaradit, described the situation as “worrying”, saying that the water level of his dam was at 13 per cent of full capacity, which would not be sufficient to irrigate farms if there is no significant rainfall.

Last year, Bhumibol Dam had 4,431 cubic metres of water at this time of the year, compared to 4,251 cubic metres this year, Phisut said.

“If this continues, the Royal Irrigation Department [RID], which operates all government dams, will have to ask farmers to skip their off-season farming,” he said.

Low releases a risk to fish farms

Ubolrat Dam in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen has released less water than normal, Phinyo Thongsing said. Phinyo is director of the Ubolrat Dam and also supervises all hydropower dams in the region.

This dam is only about 27 per cent full due to the lack of rains, and is only able to release some 2 million cubic metres a day, compared its regular rate of 3 million cubic metres, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Phisut said the insufficient release of water could also mean that seawater flow into rivers or estuaries in lower regions, which in turn would damage fish farms and affect the production of tap water. The shortage will be most felt in January or February, when the rains stop and sea levels rise.

Suthep said normally Sirikit Dam reached 6 billion units of water, which was enough for farming, but this year, the dam will have no more than 4 billion units from now until late October when the wet season ends.

The two dams, which also produce hydropower, are key water storage resources for the entire Mae Ping River basin in the North.

RID will be meeting soon to discuss possible management of water resources in case of drought.

The Mae Ping is one of the four tributaries of the Chao Phya River and contributes greatly to the water volume used in the Central region, which is the country’s key farming area. Insufficient water supply could result in farms being affected, while excessive water can bring about flooding.

Reflecting his concern over possible lack of water, Suthep said he “prayed” that there would be at least 1 billion units saved from rain in September and October so Sirikit Dam can continue releasing water at its normal rate. He explained that if there were sufficient rains in areas south of Uttaradit – or in the entire Central region – then Sirikit Dam could release 7 million units of water daily to supply farmland.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says

Caitlin Ashworth



Burmese child contracted Covid-19 while crossing the border, report says | The Thaiger

The 2 year old Burmese child, who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving Thailand, may have contracted the virus while travelling from Thailand to Myanmar, according to a report from Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health Disease Control Department.

The department says they suspect the child was exposed to the virus while crossing the border from the Mae Sot border district in Tak to Myanmar’s Myawaddy town. The child’s parents worked in Ayutthaya and quit their jobs last month. The department says the toddler probably contracted the virus around September 4 to September 10 while the family was travelling.

The family crossed natural, unofficial passageways into Myanmar. The news website Xinhua says it was an “apparent intent to evade anti-pandemic measures at the Mae Sot border checkpoint.”

Those in Thailand who came in close contact with the family tested negative for the virus. 146 people who worked with the family at Ayutthaya migrant worker camps all tested negative for Covid-19. Those in close contact with the family in the Nakhon Ratchasima province, where the parents worked prior to Ayutthaya, tested negative as well. 2,635 people in Mae Sot tested negative for Covid-19.

Health officials are still investigating 2 apparent local transmissions of Covid-19. Earlier this month, a Bangkok DJ tested positive for Covid-19, breaking Thailand’s 100 day streak without a local transmission. The DJ tested positive for G strain of the virus, a more infectious strain that is typically found in imported cases detected during state quarantine rather than local transmissions. Health officials do not know where the DJ contracted the virus.

A Uzbek football player for the Buriram United team recently tested positive for Covid-19. He was asymptomatic and tested negative for the virus multiple times during quarantine after he arrived to Thailand. Although it seems like a local transmission, some health officials speculate the virus has a longer incubation period than 14 days.


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Video & Podcasts

Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020

The Thaiger



Thailand News Today | Amnesty finishes, protest round-up | September 21, 2020 | The Thaiger

Daily video news about Thailand with Tim Newton

Get a visa or go to jail.

Thai Immigration Tourists, and anyone else with a lapsed visa, ha ve only 5 days to renew their visa or they could get arrested. The current visa amnesty ends on September 26 and there isn’t going to be another sudden announcement for another grace period, according to immigration officials. Those who overstay will face arrest and be deported back to their home countries. Immigration officials estimate there are more than 150,000 foreign nationals who need to have their tourist visas renewed. Immigration officials said today that people without a valid visa after September 26 could face jail.

“Overstaying the tourist visa is punishable by both a jail term and fine under the Immigration Act.”

Some foreigners who arrived on tourist visas earlier in the year have been in Thailand since late March when the Thai borders closed and many international flights were cancelled due to the world coronavirus pandemic. The visa amnesty was renewed twice since many people were unable to their home countries, but now the amnesty is coming to an end this Saturday.

There were hopes that the end of the visa amnesty could co-incide with the introduction of the new Special Tourist Visa so that those either unable to leave, due to lack of flights or problems returning to their home countries, could ‘roll over’ onto the new 90 day visas. But that has not been announced at this stage and remains just wishful thinking. The best thing you can do, if you don’t currently have a valid visa to stay in Thailand, is urgently contact your embassy, make an appointment online at your nearest Immigration office, or speak to a professional visa agent. But, be warned, there are plenty of scammers posting official looking urgent posts in social media offering to issue you with a visa so you can stay in Thailand. Do your homework before spending money with any visa agent.

Weekend protest rallies draw 30,000 people but no formal response

Protesters gathered from early Saturday morning at the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus. Although officially denied permission to hold their protest on the Campus grounds, the demonstrators stormed the campus’s gates, without resistance from onlooking police or security officials. By the afternoon the crowd had reached some 30,000 people, less than the 50,000 expected but a lot more than the 15,000 expected by government officials in the lead up to the Saturday rally. Largely peaceful the protesters sat in the wet season drizzle to listen to speeches and performances before marching together to the adjacent royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang. Here the protest continued under the watchful eye of police, all unarmed, who barricaded off sensitive areas of the historic parade grounds and access to the Grand Palace.

The protest continued into the night and punctuated the themes of political freedom, new Democratic elections, the dissolution of the Thai parliament and, controversially, reforms to the country’s revered monarchy. On Sunday morning there was a symbolic placement of a brass plaque to commemorate the event, seen as a replacement to a similar plaque that commemorated the Siam Revolution in 1932 that mysteriously vanished in 2017. The protesters then marched to the Privy Council to officially hand over a copy of their 10 point manifesto.

Meanwhile, 45,000 books – a collection of speeches and poems by some of the protest leaders – were seized in a nearby Bangkok house. The books were to be handed out to protesters. 5 people were arrested at the time.

Alcohol banned at national parks after complaints of trash and drunk tourists Alcohol is now banned at national parks after tourists allegedly got drunk at a waterfall and others left a load of trash by their campsite. Just last week, trash left at a campsite at Khao Yai National Park was boxed up in a parcel and sent back to the campers. Other tourists were allegedly drunk and making a lot of noise at the Namtok Samlan National Park, Varawut says. He says both groups of tourists face charges for their actions.

• Alcohol is banned at national parks for the time being

• Loud noise is not allowed after 9pm and noise must be stopped at 10pm

• When renting a tent, tourists must provide identification, address and phone number

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MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest

Caitlin Ashworth



MP files complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the protest | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Line Today

A member of parliament filed a complaint against 3 opposition MPs for allegedly joining the weekend’s pro-democracy protest where activists demanded reform of the Thai Monarchy. He’s also putting together a legal team aimed at dissolving the members’ 3 opposition parties.

Palang Pracharat MP Sira Jenjakha says he has a photo of the 3 members raising their hands in a 3 finger salute, a symbol of resistance against the military run government. He says the protest was illegal, and the location, the Royal Field next to the Grand Palace, is off limits to unauthorised people.

He filed the complaint with the Chanasongkhram police against Mongkolkit Suksintharanont, of the Thai Civilized Party, Peerawit Ruangluedolapark, of the Thai Rak Thai Party and Nattha Boonchai-insawat of the Kao Klai Party.

A legal team assigned by Sira will collect evidence and file a petition with the Constitutional Court calling on the dissolution of the 3 opposition parties: Thai Civilized Party, Thai Rak Thai Party and Kao Klai Party.

He says he also plans to ask the House Speaker to investigate the 3 members to determine if they breached the parliament’s ethical conduct.


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