The government will soon be able to announce the exact amount of compensation to be paid to people whose land is within designated waterretention areas that will be used starting from this year’s flooding season, according to a senior watermanagement official said.
“The Water and Flood Management Commission has approved the designation of over 2.1 million rai of land as waterretention areas, but is considering the precise amount of compensation and will announce it soon,” Lertwiroj Kowatthana, directorgeneral of the department, told The Nation in an exclusive interview. The Water and Flood Management Commission earlier appointed a committee comprising representatives of the Agriculture, Environment and Interior ministries to designate waterretention areas and determine the compensation to be paid to people living on them. “We know the number of areas we will use. We also have a date from which we will allow floodwater to enter the waterretention area, and the date on which we will discharge floodwater from these areas,” Lertwiroj said. According to Lertwiroj, the committee, chaired by Jetsada Kaewkallaya of the Water and Flood Management Commission, will first finalise the exact amount of compensation it will pay to affected farmers and people whose lands were designated as waterretention areas. Following this, it will propose the compensation scheme to the commission and Cabinet for approval, before announcing it to the public. The committee has concluded that it will designate 2,147,000 rai of land to hold 5.1 billion cubic metres of floodwater. About 1,265,959 rai of this land is located in irrigated areas that could retain 2.9 billion cubic metres of floodwater. They were designated as waterretention areas because they feature Royal Irrigation Departmentinstalled watercontrol systems to control the inflow and outflow of floodwater. Of the designated waterretention areas, about 4,970 rai are monkeycheek areas, areas near natural watersheds, natural reservoirs and lakes, which will be used to retain 27 million cubic meters of flood water. And about 876,521 rai of the designated lands are located in floodplains or flooded fields. These areas will be able to hold 2 billion cubic metres of water. These areas, covering the irrigated areas, natural watershed areas, swamps, lakes, and floodplains are located in Phitsanulok, Phichit, Nakhon Sawan, Chai Nat, Singburi, Lopburi, Ang Thong and Ayutthaya and will be used to hold floodwater from September to November. “The government would seek cooperation from farmers to finish rice harvesting by the end of August and stop growing rice for the next three months,” Lertwiroj said. According to the preliminary rehabilitation measures, the committee wants to pay compensation to farmers whose paddy fields and other farms are located in irrigated areas designated as waterretention areas. Farmers in retention areas whose paddy fields and farms are located in floodplains or flooded fields whose crops are not ready to be harvested during the flood season will also be compensated for their crops by the committee. The amount of compensation will follow the floodvictim assistance criteria established by the Cabinet resolution on August 25, 2011. Farmers whose fields are located in the designated areas but who do not grow rice or other crops from September to November will receiving compensation as rent payments for use of the land during flood season. “We have already determined the amount of land that we will use as waterretention areas. We have also already come up with a method to pay compensation. For now, we are just waiting for the method of announcing the details of the designated areas and compensation for affected people. This is a very sensitive issue and the government must make a decision during the next [few] weeks, before the floods start,” Lertwiroj said.