Dam dirty dealings in Chalong

PHUKET: The Irrigation Department has almost completed negotiations to acquire all of the land needed to build the Klong Krata Reservoir in Chalong, but the project now faces an unexpected new hurdle because some landowners have been excavating and trucking away topsoil from the project site.

Theerachart Sangkaha, the Irrigation Department official in charge of the project, informed Governor Niran Kalayanamit of the soil loss during a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Thursday morning.

“We have a big problem with the removal of soil from the project site. After we reached agreements with the landowners, we used tape to mark off the project area and keep people out. Now we have to ask the Chalong Tambon Administration Organization and Chalong Police to help us patrol the area to make sure that no more soil is removed,” he told Gov Niran.

Although unable to estimate the volume of the missing soil, K. Theerachart told the Gazette that amount was considerable. Project planners had originally intended to use the in-situ soil to help build the base of the dam. Now they will have to truck in material to replace the soil that has gone missing, he said.

On a more positive note, K. Theerachart said that his office had secured formal agreements to buy the land needed from all but one property owner, with whom he expects to reach an agreement soon.

The total project cost will be 960 million baht; about 300 million for land acquisition and 660 million for construction.

About 95 million baht has already been paid out for land purchases under an initial budget. The remainder of the land purchase costs will be covered under a second budget of 200 million baht.

Some 157 rai of the 430-rai project is national forest land; use of which has already been granted by the Forestry Department, he said.

K. Theerachart said that 750-million-baht Bang Neaw Dum reservoir now nearing completion in Thalang will have a greater storage capacity (7.2 million cubic meters) than Klong Krata (5.7 million cubic meters), despite being cheaper to build.

Because of steep hillsides in the area, the Klong Krata dam will need to be larger, he explained. The eight-meter-thick dam will be built of concrete and clay layers stretching 730 meters between two bluffs. The maximum water depth behind the structure will be about 25 meters.

As the soil in the area is sandy, six enormous concrete blocks will be put in place beneath dam to prevent seepage, he said.

To fund construction costs, the Phuket Irrigation Office is now preparing a 660-million-budget request to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives for fiscal 2008, K. Theerachart said.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2009, after which it will serve as the principal supply source for Chalong and Rawai and help augment supplies in Kata-Karon.

Upon completion, a ring road will encircle the reservoir created by the dam, K. Theerachart said.

Phuket News

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