ROXAS City – Gov. Victor Tanco Sr. wants the almost P5-billion Panay River Basin Flood Control Project implemented at the soonest possible time. He believes it will solve the perennial flooding problem of the province.
The project will be funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) – and a counterpart fund from the Philippine government.
According to Tanco, also the new chairman of the Regional Development Council in Western Visayas, a feasibility study has already been undertaken and that the project has already been endorsed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for implementation.
Engr. Julius Abela of Capiz’s 1st Engineering District said the P4.9-billion budget only covers the project’s Phase l.
Originally, the project cost is P12 billion he said.
The ambitious project calls for the rehabilitation of the 98-kilometer Panay River in Capiz.
Tanco said he would personally ask the help of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to fast track the project.
During his 1996 visit to Capiz, Kenichi Matsui, JICA expert for rivers, revealed that the flood control project was shelved in 1985 just after the completion of the feasibility study because of what JICA experts then perceived to be a problem on peace and order in Capiz.
Matsui said, however, that JICA sees Capiz now as a very peaceful place.
The study, which started in August 1983 and was completed in October 1985, was aimed at formulating an integrated water resource development plan on the Panay River Basin which covers 12 out of the 16 municipalities in the northeastern part of the province.
The study covered such aspects as resources development, including investigation of socioeconomic, hydrology and land use, planning for flood control, agricultural development, multi-purpose dams and water supply with emphasis on flood control.
Matsui said he was told by provincial officials that Capiz loses an average of P144-million worth of crops yearly due to destructive floods.
Environmental degradation such us forest denudation, erosion of the Panay watershed and the heavy siltation of the Panay River – factors causing flashfloods in Capiz during the rainy season – always leads the pack of problems Capiz officials would want Malacañang to act on.
In 1996, Capiz officials led by then Capiz Gov. Esteban Contreras presented environmental degradation as their major concern to then President Ramos during his May 7 out-of-town Cabinet meeting in Antique.
They also informed the President on the need to dredge the area of the Tinagong Dagat Bay, the estuary of the Panay River, as it has become heavily silted causing slow movement of water as well as the pollution which causes mass mortality on prawn farms around the bay.
by Gerry T. Pagharion, Panay News