Flood furore

THE people of Thailand are still reeling under the impact of the most devastating wet-season flooding in a decade, and they hold the government responsible for their suffering. It was the poor water management policy of the goverment that deepened the crisis, claim the experts in the country. "It was all preventable," says Steve Van Beek, the author of a recently published study on Thailand's main water-way, the Chao Phraya river. The marauding tides crashed upon the farmlands, destroying crops and damaging the lands only because the government refused to lower the water levels at the three main upstream dams on Chao Phraya. These dams originally designed to control irrigation, now also produce hydroelectric power. "Now the authorities are reluctant to lower water levels in time to control flooding as this reduces their generating capacity," storms Van Beek. And the Thai people paid dearly for their shortsightedness.

With more than 10 per cent of the cultivated area in Thailand's 76 provinces still under water, the financial analysts are expecting a sharp boost in inflation rates.