Published: Wednesday 31 March 1999

The irrigation department of Thailand will drastically reduce the rate of water flow from the Bhumibhol and Sirikit dams over the next few months. It has warned farmers in the regions of Central Plains not to start the third rice crop. Kicha Polparsi, deputy permanent secretary of the agriculture and cooperatives ministry said: Let me warn farmers that water scarcity in May and June 1999 will be severe and there will not be enough water for the third crop. The farmers will suffer losses, he added.

The warning was given despite heavy rainfall in early February that had increased the water volume in Bhumibhol and Sirikit dams by 25 million cu/m. The rain also raised the levels in natural water sources like marshes and canals by about 50 centimetres. Kicha said the water use for the second rice crop has slowed. He also said farmers in upper-central provinces such as Nakhon Sawan, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet and Sukhothai have cooperated with the ministry's water rationing plan and have not pumped as much water as they did earlier.

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