Sunday, March 14, 2010

Drought along the Mekong will worsen as temperature rises

The Bangkok Post: A severe drought is beginning to take its toll on parts of the country as temperatures are expected to hit 43C this summer. Cargo barges can no longer ply the Mekong River due to a drastic drop in water levels, and farmers in some areas have begun to fight among themselves over water supplies. The weather bureau predicts the highest temperature this year to reach 43C.

The Chiang Rai Customs Office said river freight to and from China would come to a halt because the Mekong River had become too shallow. The goods are now transported overland along the 2,000km-long R3A route which links Thailand with Xishuangbanna prefecture in Yunnan province of southern China via Laos.

The office said the route was busy with the number of trailer trucks carrying cargo containers jumping to 50 a day, from 50 a month a few months ago. Appointed senator Prasarn Maruekapitak, head of the subcommittee working on the development of the Mekong basin, said the water levels in the Mekong measured in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai had dropped by 1.5m between Jan 24 and Feb 23.

The senator quoted the Chinese media as reporting the present water level of the river was the lowest in 50 years. He said other reports blamed China for stocking up water in its dams built upstream. "No matter what has caused this problem, people are suffering," Mr Prasarn said….

Mekong River in Nakhon Province. The opposite is Khammoun Province of Laos. Shot by Oatz

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