11 July 2024

Two groups of villagers in Thailand’s central province of Ayutthaya confronted each other today (Tuesday), over whether excess water should be drained into a water retention area in Pak Hai district.

The incident started when about 200 people from Bang Hak, Bang Luang and Wat Taku sub-districts of Bang Ban district gathered on a local road, linking Bang Ban with Pak Hai, to demand that irrigation officials drain excess water from their communities into the retention area in Pak Hai district, claiming that their villages have been flooded since August.

They claimed that the prolonged flooding has made their lives miserable, with their crops and property damaged, and that they have to use boats as the only way to get in and out of their villages.

They also claimed that irrigation officials have been promising to drain water out of their villages since September, but keep postponing it.

The protesting villagers then blocked the road and stopped a truck, belonging to the Royal Irrigation Department, triggering a heated argument between the two sides, until the arrival of the police to mediate the dispute.

An irrigation official, based in Pak Hai district, later arrived to explain the delay in draining water, claiming that villagers living in the water retention area do not want it to be drained to there, for fear that the Bang Ban-Pak Hai road, which is their access main route, may become flooded and impassable.

Then, villagers from the Pak Hai retention area arrived at the scene to confront the Bang Ban villagers, prompting police at the scene to ask both sides to send their representatives for talks, mediated by irrigation and local officials.

After the talks, it was agreed that the irrigation officials would open three sluice gates, to drain water out of flooded villages in Bang Ban district.