BANGKOK -The Royal Household Bureau has told Chavalit Chukhachorn, the permanent secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives, His Majesty the King has expressed concern over the intensifying national drought and asked the government to accelerate efforts to create artificial rain for farmers using cloud-seeding technology.
Chavalit Chukhachorn, said the Royal Household Bureau contacted him yesterday to say the monarch is worried about the drought and alarmed at the low volume of water in major reservoirs and dams.
Mr Chavalit talked about the King’s concerns during his trip to inspect the volume of water at Pasak Jolasid Dam in Lop Buri’s Phatthana Nikhom district yesterday. He said the volume of water this year 65 million cubic meters is the lowest recorded in 20 years.
The permanent secretary said the bureau had told him the King wants the government to urgently speed up the creation of artificial rain, to take advantage of the current favorable humidity.
Tropical storm Kujira moved from Da Nang in Vietnam to the southern part of China last week, bringing increased humidity to Thailand.
“The Prime Minister has ordered royal rain-making stations to speed up work to combat the drought. The government fully supports this,” he said.
“Farmers in dry areas are now waiting for the artificial rain, because they have already started planting.”
Mr Chavalit warned that water reserves at Pasak Jolasid Dam are only sufficient for the next 40 days of farming and household consumption for people in Lop Buri, Saraburi, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya and Bangkok.
He said the government department responsible for artificial rain-making and agriculture aviation has launched operations in the North and Central Plains to help increase water volume in reservoirs and dams including Pasak Jolasid.
He said the Royal Irrigation Department expected rainfall would boost Pasak Jolasid and other dams from Aug 10.
As the drought crisis worsens nationwide, Mr Chavalit urged farmers not to expand farming areas for now. He also asked households to use water responsibly.
Mr Chavalit said the department will tomorrow mobilise four planes from Rayong and Krabi. It will also ask the Royal Thai Air Force to send two aircraft to work with artificial rain-making stations in Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok to assist farmers in 32 provinces in the North, the Central Plains and the West.
He said the department has 14 planes to operate rain-making missions in the three regions. The exercise is expected to last until October with the aim of increasing water levels in Bhumibol Dam in Tak, Sirikit Dam in Uttaradit and Khawe Noi-Bamrung Dan Dam in Phitsanulok.
Uttaradit Governor Chat Kittinoppadol said rain has fallen across the province over the past two days.
Despite this, he said the volume of rainfall was not enough to sufficiently raise levels in Sirikit Dam or for farmers to store for agricultural use.
The Meteorological Department said Thailand will continue to experience lower than average rainfall, meaning the drought will go on until the end of next month.