Thai Govt favours smaller dams – based on South Korea 4 Rivers Model

November 20, 2011

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will investigate setting up a network of weirs and dykes to provide water during droughts and generate clean electricity.

The initiative follows Thailand gaining support from Asean on cooperation on flood prevention, mitigation, relief, recovery and rehabilitation.

“The prime minister raised the issue of disaster relief and water management at the regional level. The prime minister spoke about food security. All agreed that natural disasters would have an impact on supply chains,” said Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

The floods have driven home the fact that Thailand is crucial in regional supply chains, in particular the car industry and rice production.

“After food security we will be raising and talking about energy security,” Mr Surapong said.

“The prime minister has the idea and we have spoken to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and Myanmar [Burma] about dams along the Mekong River.

“We are not talking about dams but weirs _ smaller dams which can produce electricity from water. This coincides with green growth. The prime minister will raise this on further occasions and we are confident that other countries would agree. This is clean energy.”

China’s huge dams along the Mekong River result in droughts in certain parts of Thailand and Laos, the foreign minister said.

“If we build these smaller dams … we can control the flow of water and we can produce electricity. We will get water during droughts for our farmers and water to produce electricity. We can build a continuous number. This is a new idea,” he said.

The foreign minister likened this network of dams to the Four Major Rivers restoration project in South Korea.

South Korea has urged Prime Minister Yingluck to visit and observe the project which the foreign minister said is successful and prevents drought and flooding.

The Four Rivers Major Restoration Project is a multi-purpose green growth project on the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan rivers in South Korea.

The project was initiated by South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and completed last month.

The South Korean restoration project’s aims were to provide or improve water security, flood control and ecosystem vitality.

It was launched in January 2009 for an estimated cost of US$17 billion.

However, the project is not without its critics who questioned its viability and its goals.

Critics also say that the four provinces which host the project have relatively few water management problems and that the project will change the natural flow of water and increase erosion.

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