Thailand's Songkran Water Festival Begins Amid Regional Drought

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 11:01 AM

The Songkran festival celebrates the country'south New Year and the water is said to cleans people of their sins and misfortunes.

Thailand's Songkran Water Festival Begins Amid Regional Drought

BEIJING — Thailand kicked off the world'south biggest water fight Wednesday, with participants — willing or otherwise — subjected to attacks from hoses, balloons and water pistols in streets across the country.

The Songkran festival celebrates the country'south New Year and the water is said to cleans people of their sins and misfortunes. It's described by Lonely Planet as "part a time of respect, and part riot."

But this year there'south an miserable undercurrent to the joyous mayhem: The region is suffering its worst drought in decades.

Critics declare that rising temperatures have been exacerbated by China'south extensive damming of the Mekong River — which also runs through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

"With six dams and their gigantic reservoirs … China has absolute control over the Mekong," said Pianporn Deetes, coordinator for California-based non-profit International Rivers.

Worst hit has been Vietnam, where the water level has dropped to its lowest in ninetieth years and nearly one million citizens don't have sufficient to drink, according to a report by the United Nations Catastrophe Risk Management Team.

Thailand has attempted to rescue water by cutting its festival from four to three days and imposing a curfew at night, which it says will rescue as much as five billion liters of water. China also agreed latest mo to release more water from a giant dam in Yunnan province.

"It goes without saying that friends should assistance each other when assistance is needed," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at the time.

This emergency release reached the Mekong Delta this week and should assistance beat back the salty waters of the S China Sea. However, critics declare that ordinary civilians are still suffering.

"While the Mekong may be used as a platform for diplomacy, this operates at the level of governments," Deetes said. "Meanwhile those who actually pay the price are the rural poor, riverine villagers living downstream, who have number voice in the decision-making process and who aren't informed or consulted."

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