The severe drought, which has forced many farmers in Northern and Northeastern Thailand have given up on growing rice and have now allowed cattle to graze on their failed rice crops.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha apparently expressed “grave concern” over the situation in the North and the Northeast, assistant defence spokesman Phatchasak Patirupanon said yesterday.
A situation which may be made worse by the test run of Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in Laos.
Eight provinces located along the river in the two regions — Chiang Rai, Loei, Nong Khai, Beung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoe.
On Friday, the Office of National Water Resources asked the Lao government, asking it to suspend its test run of Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in Laos.
The 1,260-megawatt Xayaburi dam, located just south of Luang Prabang in Xayaburi province.
In Chiang Rai, residents and rice farmers are complaining over a drop of water level in the Mekong.
They are also worried about the dam operations upstream in Laos and China.
“Water levels are even lower than they usually get during dry season,” tourist boat operator On Unsaeng said.
Rice Crops Dying in Northeastern Thailand
Meanwhile, farmers in Nakhon Ratchasima province in northeastern Thailand are also suffering from severe drought.
Rice crops in paddy fields covering almost 200,000 rai in Phimai district are wilting and dying as the severe drought takes a toll.
Governor Wichian Chantharanothai yesterday reported that water sources in the district are running dry.
“Unless it rains heavily this month, the rice crops will be decimated,” said the governor, adding water trucks had been sent to drought-hit areas to provide temporary relief.
“Rain is now a past memory,” Athit Phanasun, chief of a Nong Khai environmental group, said it should have been a soaking wet period.
Nong Khai’s Muang district on the side of the Mekong River now sees its riverbank extend almost to the middle of a section of the river.
The Xayaburi dam test will only make things worse, Mr Athit added.