Chiang Mai safe from drought - or is it?
Two main dams contain enough water but rainmakers prepare
Sangrat Benjapong, the director of Chiang Mai’s
Irrigation Office said that the volume of water in the two dams, Mae Ngad
Som Boon Chon dam in Maetang district and Mae Guang Udom Tara dam in Doi
Saket district, is sufficient to distribute water to agricultural areas in
Chiang Mai and Lamphun provinces throughout the drought season.
Heavy rains during past rainy seasons have ensured that
the Mae Ngad dam is at 91 percent of the dam’s capacity, and the water
reserve in Mae Guang dam is also higher than the previous year.
It is expected that a drought would not occur this year
with careful use but, if farmers continue to expand agriculture areas, the
water quantity would not be adequate and a drought could occur, he said,
seemingly backing both horses in the race.
He asked the farmers not to grow non-seasonal rice as
this would lead to a shortage. 80 water pumps are being prepared to help
farmers in the three provinces of Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son.
Somchai Ruangsudnaruprap, the director of the Royal Rain
Making detachment, commented, “The drought this year might be more serious
than several years ago. There will be a climate and water quantity watch on
natural water sources and in Mae Ngad Sirikit and Bhumibol dams.
“This year the drought does not appear to be very
serious,” he continued with a conflicting statement, “but it could be
worrisome in the long term. The southern artificial rain detachment has
prepared an aid program for the drought situation in the northern part of
Thailand and assistance will be provided with the use of chemical substances
and aircraft to create artificial rain. However, the overall success of the
operation depends on the general climate.”
AIDS, influenza and SARS
Nobel Laureate Prof. Peter C. Doherty’s address
The Dialogues towards a Culture of Peace series
continued at Chiang Mai University (CMU), featuring Prof. Peter C.
Doherty, Nobel Laureate for Medicine.
Laureate Prof. Peter C. Doherty addresses more than 500 medical students,
urging them to face the challenges of the 21st century (Photo by Saksit
Prof. Doherty, whose current research focuses on
aspects of immunity in influenza and AIDS, both being diseases without
borders, began by sending out a strong appeal as to preserving the
environment. He said, “Manipulating the world for our advantage has
created extraordinary selective forces that both impact on other life
forms and are beginning to backfire on us.” He mentioned global
warming, industrialization with all the negative environmental
consequences that accompanied the modern lifestyle. He acknowledged the
‘clean and green’ approaches of Europe which seems to be lacking even
in high industrialized countries like the United States.
C. Doherty, Prof. of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of
Melbourne. (Photo by Saksit Meesubkwang)
He spoke on the practice of “fire stick”
harvesting in Australia which was used to drive kangaroos onto the spears
of the hunters, and which is thought to have shaped both the biology of
the Australian eucalypt seeds that germinate following fire, and the
nature of the open grasslands. He said it is high time for behavior
change as nature has already started to fight back.
From agricultural problems in regards to population
size and stabilization, he focused on the consequence of globalization
and the internationalization of both e-business and the manufacturing
industries. He warned that even if the population size is stabilized,
environmental pollution will increase dramatically unless new approaches
and technologies are developed and adopted.
But his major point addressed AIDS, influenza and SARS
and how the world reacts to it. While some countries still deny it, he
said Thailand was a very impressive example as regards the effective
response made here to the AIDS pandemic. After the magnitude of the
problem was recognized, Thailand rapidly organized itself to limit the
spread of the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV). And it has proven that
it is possible to promote behavioral change, including the use of
He highlighted the enormous numbers of deaths from
AIDS globally, estimated in 2002 at 3.1 million and approximately 42
million carrying the disease. He said, “The way that HIV works
biologically is almost a mirror of the social consequences. AIDS
eliminates the helpers and facilitators in society. In Africa, the high
mortality rates among school teachers, political leaders, police officers
and public officials has had devastating consequences.” He expressed
the opinion that the lucky ones were children raised by grandparents, but
farmers die before they can pass on the skills needed by the next
He urged his mostly young medical student audience to face the
challenges of the 21st century, to become the much needed leaders who
facilitate a process of cultural evolution towards equitable, ethical
solutions and sustainability.
Chiang Mai develops energy strategy
Most residents are wasting energy
Fifty percent of Chiang Mai residents are wasting energy,
a seminar was told in Chiang Mai on February 25. The Science and Technology
Research and Development Institute, Chiang Mai University, in cooperation
with the Ministry of Energy held the seminar at Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel on
the strategy of Chiang Mai’s energy development. 200 local administrative
officers, members of Tambon Administration Organization of Chiang Mai
Panthong, Chiang Mai vice governor (2nd left) at the seminar on Chiang
Mai’s energy development.
Chiang Mai’s vice governor, Prinya Panthong, made the
profound and insightful statement that in the past Thai people did not need
as much energy and technology as in these days. The weather was also not as
hot as it is today, he added.
People are now too dependent on energy and use it
extravagantly, as can be seen in many entertainment outlets and restaurants.
He requested the younger generation especially to help conserve energy and
realize that Thailand has limited resources.
Prof. Dr. Thanongkriat Kraitsiriroj, from the Science and
Technology Research and Development Institute, said that Chang Mai still has
natural resources for energy that have never been utilized, such as coal,
natural gas, wind, sunlight and tidal energy that could be used if Chiang
Mai had a sea coast. No organization has yet invested to transform these
resources into energy even though they could be used as energy supply for a
period of 100-200 years, and save trillions of baht.
50 percent of energy is used extravagantly by Chiang Mai residents, so
that campaigning to promote the value of energy and energy saving is
necessary. He added that seminars for community leaders would be held to
create awareness and pass the message on to the villagers.
24 hour Call Center set up for pollution problems
Smoke blanketing Chiang Mai has prompted Chiang Mai
Governor Suwat Tantipat to institute a 24-hour Call Center (telephone number
0 5389 0000), to receive information about forest fires and burning off
garbage and agricultural waste.
Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat
The Call Center is located at Chiang Mai City Hall, and
its staff will deal immediately with the situations.
Suwat said if the smoke problem in Chiang Mai is not
urgently solved, it will affect people’s health, the economy and
environment, and especially the image of Chiang Mai and thus tourism.
Anyone who deliberately burns any item will be branded a heinous
“forest burning criminal”, as it is such people who destroy the natural
resources and environment.
Orange orchard gives Fang the pip
MP peels away the problem
A conflict between villagers of San San Klong Noi, Chiang
Mai and Thanathorn orange orchard workers occurred after the orchard workers
removed fences encircling a public irrigation ditch adjacent to a Thanathorn
orange orchard. The villagers were incensed as it was a public place and it
had been agreed earlier that the orchard workers would build a road beside
the ditch but did not do so. To counter this, the villagers blockaded the
On February 24, Chan Nonghin, a village headman, stated
that the villagers had made an agreement that they would put fences around
the irrigation ditch again after they were removed by the workers. Prior to
the replacement of fences, the district chief officer and heads of many
organizations and Santi Tansuhat, a member of parliament of the 10th
constituency zone, tried to negotiate between the villagers and the
The officials and MPs suggested the orchard owner build a
road to link the irrigation ditch and remove water pipes that are connected
to the irrigation ditch to make the area a public place for other villagers
to use. This suggestion satisfied both sides.
After making an agreement, the villagers stopped building
fences and allowed the workers to commute to village areas. Chan said that
the conflict was not of their making. He had planned to bring the villagers
to apologize to the orchard owner in order to improve relationships.
MP Santi said that during the conflict, a rumor had been
spread that an influential person threatened a leader of the protesting
villager’s group and that caused so much fear among them that some
villagers asked for a police guard to ensure their security. Eventually,
however, the conflict was solved and he wished them to live together in
peace for evermore.
Ministry of Public Health holds workshop on booze, bungers and bangs
Dr. Kittisak Klabdee, from the Ministry of Public
Health, region 2, presided over a workshop on alcohol and tobacco
consumption and sound pollution on February 24 at the Central Duangtawan
Hotel, Chiang Mai.
Kittisak Klabdee (left) from the Ministry of Public Health, region 2,
presides over the workshop at Central Duangtawan Hotel, Chiang Mai.
The National Statistics Office reported that alcohol
consumption amongst Thais is increasing and during the last ten years,
300,000 Thais had begun to drink alcohol. This behavior caused over 70
dangerous diseases. (Incidentally, the population is estimated to have
grown by 3,900,000 during the same period.)
The Disease Control Department Ministry of Public
Health has realized the severity of the problem, especially its impact on
youth and children. The workshop was held to develop measures to control
alcohol and tobacco sales and sound pollution.
He admitted that to reduce alcohol and cigarette consumption and sound
pollution from entertainment outlets is a difficult task due to poor
cooperation from influential owners.
Fire breaks out on undeveloped land
Threatens Tesco Lotus
On February 19, a fire blazed out on an abandoned area
behind Tesco Lotus Kamthiang branch close to the Assadathorn intersection.
Dry air and strong winds caused the fire to spread quickly. People living
nearby called the fire fighting unit to control the fire.
fighters from Chiang Mai Municipality try to control the fire behind Lotus
Two fire trucks from Chiang Mai Municipality rushed to
the scene and six fire fighters spent around 20 minutes to extinguish the
fire. A fire fighter commented that fires in that area were regular
occurrences especially during the drought season, usually from outdoor
burning by nearby residents.
There are many undeveloped areas in Chiang Mai and some of them are close
to residential areas. These areas lack attention from their landowners and
become deserted, grass covered and untidy. The doughty fighter said that
Chiang Mai municipality should pay more attention to these deserted plots,
as they can be sources of fires ravaging populated areas.
Second year CMU Fine Arts students display works at Central Kad Suan Kaew
Second year students of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang
Mai University are holding an exhibition entitled “Open Heart” from
February 24 to March 10 on the B1 floor, Central Kad Suan Kaew, Chiang Mai.
The main objective of the exhibition is to present
students’ work to the public. The exhibition was officially opened on
February 24 by ML Surasawas Sukhasawas, dean of CMU’s Faculty of Fine
Amporn Jittranarin, a representative of the students said
that the exhibition has 60 works from second year students majoring in
painting, printing and sculpture. She added that it gives students
experience in organizing exhibitions and promotes self-esteem.
ML Surasawas presented a souvenir to Amporn to congratulate and encourage
all students on the occasion of their exhibition.
Fire risk high for Chiang Mai suburbs
Dry hot weather predicted
Chiang Mai suburban residents face many outbreaks of
fire, like the one that broke out on February 20 and threatened Chang Puek -
only prompt action by Arnon Yana, a member of Tambon Chang Puek Municipal
Council, averted a disaster.
The forest fire fighting units of Chang Puek Municipality
and Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) responded to his
call and rushed to the undeveloped land. Tinder-dry grass led to the rapid
spread of the fire and many adjacent houses were threatened. The narrow road
leading to the site made access difficult and the fire had covered almost
the whole area when fighters finally fought their way to the blaze.
fighters try to control a fire on a 30 rai area of Doi Suthep.
Arnon said that the fire might have been caused by a man
on a motorcycle who was seen in the area when the fire started. A search for
the culprit continues.
Issares Sitthirojanakul, head of the Doi Suthep fire
fighting unit said that the officers had to conduct preventative control on
forest fires that might occur on Doi Suthep, as well as Phuping Palace which
is very significant to the province. HM the Queen will reside at the Phuping
Palace for a period of three months at this season.
Strict control is practiced for a one kilometer radius
surrounding Phuping Palace. Forest fire fighters are educating villagers and
students living in 36 villages near Doi Suthep about the impact of forest
fires and a fast-moving motorcycle operation is established to patrol risky
areas and inform the fire fighting unit immediately a fire is spotted.
Surapol Leelawaropas, director of the Upper Northern
Forest Fire Control Unit, revealed that from October 2004 to February 19,
2005, 868 forest fires had occurred within the Chiang Mai-Lamphun area and
caused damage to 3,878 rai of land. The main cause of forest fires is from
careless humans or farmers burning grass.
He admitted that previous attempts that had been made to
solve the problem such as a psychological workshops were not effective. The
main cause of the fires is actually rooted in the people annually setting
fires and those doing so inadvertently while gathering forest flora to sell,
He suggested that policy change could help solve the
problem at its root, “Most people who set forest fires are poor
hunter-gatherers and do it to earn a living,” said Surapol. He added that
government should find them occupations or else forest fires would continue
to burn every dry season.
He also emphasized that 400 fire fighters were
insufficient for the needs compared to the area of 700,000 rai they have to
The Northern Meteorology Center predicted that this year’s summer would
arrive earlier than previous years and the temperature could be as high as
40ฐ C in Tak. The highest temperature in Lampang would be 39-40ฐ
C. Temperatures will rise in March and April. He warned farmers to conserve
water as this year’s drought will be severe.
Pha Muang Task Force counters Mekong route for drug runners
A smuggler bringing drugs by small boat into Thailand from
Laos at Tha Kham Sob Kham, Chiang Rai on February 23 was apprehended by soldiers
from the 956th Rangers, lying in wait after a tip-off.
The boatman fired at the soldiers attempting to stop him and
they returned with massive fire for five minutes. Not unsurprisingly, when the
dust settled, the man was found dead.
He was later identified as a Chinese Haw. By his body lay
9,400 ya ba tablets and a shotgun. His bullet riddled remains were sent to
Chiang Saen District Police Station for processing.
Maj Gen Manus stated that a number of drug networks have
begun to use the Mekong River as a route for smuggling drugs into the country.
In the rainy season when the water level is high, water transportation will be
even easier. The Mekong River serves as an effective route as it adjoins Laos,
Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai, Nong Kai in the Northeast and enters
Cambodia, said Maj. Gen. Manus.
Speedy rock group bombs in bar
Members of the teenage group, “Forward”, performing
at Qoo bar on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, were arrested on February 26 for
possession and dealing in drugs.
Korakod ‘Ton’ Jiradechakul, 23, and Jesada Ubolsri,
20, were found with ya ba pills and Itthipol ‘Toe’ Boonchompoo, 22, had
a 0.38 Smith and Wesson revolver with 6 cartridges, and a homemade pipe bomb
in his car.
The group was in the habit of making drug sales during
performances and delivering the drugs to customers after the show. Customers
were mostly musicians and young denizens of the night.
The police, using gentle musical percussion methods,
extracted confessions from the youths. They claimed to be keeping the gun
and bomb for self defense. Police, however, found the bomb to be similar to
those used in southern provinces.
Charges have been pressed against Korakod and Jesada for
the possession of and illegal dealings in drugs. Itthipol was also charged
with the possession of weapons, bullets and a bomb.
The number you are trying to call cannot be connected
A 500,000 baht hoard of mobile phones, digital cameras,
cash and 300 phone cards were discovered in the home of grilled pork vendor
Kongsri ‘Aree’ Infagtha, 53, when police searched his house after his
arrest on February 28.
A local informant told police to watch Kongsri as his
lifestyle did not equate with his pork barrel. He also ran a phone card and
mobile phone business and always had several mobile phones on offer to
The police followed Kongsri until he was found in front
of a 7-11 on Huey Kaew Road, and after the police politely requesting a
search, Nokia and Samsung mobile phones were found. The mobile phone numbers
matched a list held at the police station, reported as stolen from a company
store with another 31 mobile phones stolen from Jarong Karahong.
Burmese lady leaps from building
No bad surprise from low-rise
Quarrels over SMS messages from a lover led to Mai
Siripong, 21, leaping from a deserted building in front of Chiang Mai-Arcade
transportation terminal on Chiang Mai-Lampang Super Highway.
Siripong, 21, at the emergency room after not-so high jumping.
On February 22, the lady was admitted to the emergency
room at McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai with facial injuries and bruises
from her “suicidal” leap from the second floor to the creek. She ended
up shaken with some bruises only.
Yodchai Siripong, 21, the lady’s husband said both
worked legally at Fueng Fah Restaurant in Chiang Mai, where the husband is a
bus boy and his impulsive wife worked as a waitress.
The reason for her cautious jump appears to be that they
had argued several times because of SMS messages from another man to the
wife, so the husband became jealous.
On February 6, she moved to her sister’s residence but
the husband asked her to return. She did as he requested on the day the
event happened, but instead of a reconciliation, requested a divorce.
Yodchai disagreed, an argument ensued and Mai tried to open the door of the
building to jump. He saved her the first time but when he relaxed for a
minute, she did it again.
Yodchai said that she was always promising to jump from the building
whenever they had an argument and he often prevented her from doing so. He
did not reveal what they were doing in the deserted building.
300 Mae Taeng residents
cause big stink over garbage
A large garbage pit, dug in secret in Ban Pang Kwang, has
raised the ire of villagers who did not want a garbage dump in their
vicinity. Three hundred villagers gathered on February 21 at Muang Kaen
Pattana Municipality to protest.
villagers from Ban Pang Kwang in Mae Taeng district protest against garbage
The villagers claimed that the garbage was unsanitary.
The owner of the hole, Singh Arun, 46, who is village headman of Ban Pang
Kwang, admitted that he had allowed the garbage to be buried on his land. He
claimed, however, that before burying the garbage, he had conducted a public
hearing in his village.
However, Prasert Indee, Mae Taeng district chief officer,
argued that Singh had to ask permission from people who lived in other
villages but in the same tambon before going ahead as the villages were
close to each other and the garbage could affect people in other villages as
well. He therefore asked that the garbage burial to be halted.
Singh agreed to stop and Narong Jankaew, a member of the
Chiang Mai Provincial Administration Organization (PAO) drafted an agreement
which Singh signed to guarantee his compliance.
The district has a regulation that garbage can be buried only when the
operator has a legal document indicating his right to the land and the dump
is approved by most of villagers and government officials.