China asked for river info

Bangkok Post 20 August 2008

By APINYA WIPATAYOTIN

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Thailand has asked the Foreign Ministry for help in its bid for information from China regarding its management of sluice gates on the Mekong river. The move follows flooding in several northeastern Thai provinces through which the Mekong runs, as river levels have hit a 30-year high, according to Burachat Buasuwan, MRC's Thailand coordinator. 

The MRC suspects the rising water level may have been added to by China opening its sluice gates at inopportune times, and has asked China for details on the matter. 

However, Mr Burachat said the MRC has not received ''satisfactory cooperation'' from China about its sluice gates management. 

''Without such information, we cannot say whether the heavy flooding we are seeing now is due to China's sluice gates opening,'' he said. 

However, Harnarong Yaowaloes, member of the National Economic and Social Advisory Board, expressed his confidence that the Chinese dams were designed to automatically discharge water during the rainy season, meaning the rising river level occurred naturally rather than through any mismanagement on China's part.