Thailand’s flood preparations are in full swing, but in Ayutthaya province, not everyone feels they are going to help.
Eleven industrial estates in central Thailand’s flood-prone zone are building hundreds of kilometres of dikes.
Last year’s record-breaking water levels meant the worst flooding in half a century.
It was one of the top ten costliest natural disasters in history, disrupting global supply chains of electronics and auto parts.
The Thai government is footing most of the bill for the construction of the floodwalls for the industrial estates and no one knows for sure how bad the situation will be this year.
A group of farmers filed a lawsuit to stop construction of the wall, saying no environmental impact study was done before starting.
They said the structure will make their situation much worse even with minimal floods.
Kalaya Juprang, Ayutthaya resident, protest leader, said: “We haven’t been treated fairly by the government. They’ve provided financial support to the industrial park to build this floodwall, but never mentioned how farmers will be helped or compensated in case flood waters damage rice fields instead of factories.”
Although the government does provide compensation, loopholes have prevented some from getting their share.
Thawatchai Kongsuwan, a farmer, said: “The floods came too fast and the water level was too high for me to save my farm equipment. Everything was damaged, but I didn’t get any help from the government. They said only farmers who had already planted rice seeds (which were damaged by the floods) would get help.”
But if factories flood once again, companies are likely to move production elsewhere, and insurance companies could refuse to cover flooding.
The industrial estates are vital for the local economies.
For Wandee Musikrit, an apartment complex owner, her income has dropped by 40 per cent since last year.
She rented almost exclusively to factory workers who have since left.
“Damage to factories is greater than damage to farms. The government will compensate farmers, so they shouldn’t worry about it. Some farmers didn’t understand and received less compensation than they thought they should. So they tried to negotiate and opposed the floodwall construction. But they are only a small group of people,” she said.
As the monsoon season begins in the kingdom, worry is what everyone here has in common.