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Six injured in explosion at floodwall

Posted by arnon_k On November - 18 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Khlong Hok Wa barrier row erupts into violence

Six people have been injured by an explosive device thrown into a large crowd who were trying a fix a breach in a sandbag flood barrier in Bangkok’s Sai Mai district last night.

The blast followed a dispute over the sandbag flood barrier at the lower line of Khlong Hok Wa in the district.

Police found debris of what appeared to be a brick attached to gunpowder. The package was thrown onto the bridge across the canal where around 100 residents were trying to close a 70m-wide gap in the barrier.

Police said the incident was aimed at stirring up a confrontation between residents on both sides of the flood barrier.

Crowd-control police from the Metropolitan Police Division 2 were deployed to beef up security.

The 70m-wide gap was created in the morning when about 300 Pathum Thani residents dismantled a stretch of the sandbag flood barrier at the lower line of Khlong Hok Wa.

The breach caused more floodwater to surge into Sai Mai district.
Ratchapol Boonrod, deputy district chief of Sai Mai, said residents from tambon Lat Sawai of Pathum Thani’s Lam Luk Ka district removed sandbags from the flood barrier.

The level of floodwater in Sai Mai district then rose rapidly from the previous 20cm to between 30cm and 40cm.

The Khlong Hok Wa flood barrier is one of the two major barriers that block floodwater in Pathum Thani from surging into the northern part of Bangkok. The other barrier is in tambon Lak Hok of Pathum Thani, which connects to Bangkok’s Don Muang district.

The residents demanded that the entire length of the Khlong Hok Wa flood wall be made to serve as a weir, that the sluice gate at Khlong Phraya Suren be raised higher to 1m, and that they be paid more flood compensation.

Sanya Cheenimitr, director of City Hall’s Drainage and Sewerage department, arrived at the scene and negotiated with the angry residents.

After hours of talks, Mr Sanya bowed to their demands and ordered the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate to be lifted to 1m, prompting fierce protests by downstream Sai Mai district residents.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday said the damaged sandbag barrier and the widening of Phraya Suren sluice gate would cause about 4 million cu/m per day of floodwater to flow into Bangkok.

The affected areas include Sai Mai, Ram Intra and Bangchan Industrial Estate in Min Buri district, he said.

Anond Snidvongs, an academic for the Flood Relief Operation Command (Froc), said yesterday the raising of the Khlong Phraya Suren sluice gate as demanded by the Lam Luk Ka protesters would not help lower the flood levels in Pathum Thani. Instead, it would cause more floodwater to flow into Khlong Bang Chan in Min Buri district.

Bang Kapi, Wang Thong Lang districts and areas of Min Buri near the Suan Siam amusement park would be affected, Mr Anond said.

Meanwhile, an agreement was reached yesterday between residents affected by the big bag flood barrier erected across Phahon Yothin Road and the Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc).

It has been agreed that a 5m-wide gap be created in the barrier. Froc officials did not believe the gap would raise the floodwater levels on Phahon Yothin Road.

On Wednesday, about 200 residents of housing estates along the main road removed some of the bags on top of the barrier near the air force base, unleashing torrents of water through a 3.5m gap after the Froc rejected their demand that an opening of at least 10m be made in the barrier.

The incident took place at the Directorate of Air Operation Control intersection in Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani province.

MR Sukhumbhand said the gap would send about 400,000 cu/m per day into the Khlong Song and Don Muang areas. The additional water would cause about a 20cm rise in the water level on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and Don Mueang airport.

Mr Anond said it was estimated that between one million and 1.5 million cu/m of water a day will pass through the 5m-wide gap in the big bag wall on Phahon Yothin, although City Hall’s drainage system should be able to cope with the inflow.

Froc deputy spokesman Pongsapat Pongcharoen said City Hall’s Department of Drainage and Sewerage would monitor the water level hourly for the first 48 hours to determine whether outflows could keep up with inflows.

If the areas inside the barrier could not handle the excess water, the gaps would then be converted into weirs, Pol Gen Pongsapat said.

He added that there might be special consideration about increasing compensation for people who are outside of the barrier. Once discussions are complete the proposal would be submitted to the flood relief committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat yesterday said the plan to salvage Don Mueang airport would have to wait until the floodwater in the airport area recedes, which is estimated by the end of the month.

A 2km-long sangbag wall would be erected along Vibhavadi Rangsit outside the airport. When the water outside the barrier recedes, what remains inside the airport would be drained into the surrounding canal network, he said.

Rosana claims success in ‘water pushing’

Posted by arnon_k On November - 16 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Water-pushing devices have helped drive around 7 million cubic metres of water into the sea from the capital every day.

Bangkok Senator Rosana Tositrakul, who has spearheaded a move to ease flooding in Bangkok’s Thon Buri area, said the water-pushing devices have been a great success.

Each device is made up of two connected, 200-litre containers with their bottoms sawn off. The pilot device was attached under a motorboat moored to the Ekkachai-Bang Bon bridge forming “a tunnel” which helps speed water flow. As the boat propellers spin, water is funnelled through the tunnel. This helps boost water pressure and causes it to flow quickly and forcefully.

The amount of water drained by the devices was nearly half of the at least 15 million cu/m a day drained by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

Ms Rosana said she had sought cooperation from the state and private sectors to help donate more such devices to drive water into the Gulf of Thailand.

A total of 20 water-pushing devices have been donated: 14 by the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), three by the Naval Engineering Command and another three by the private sector.

The senator earlier urged Thon Buri residents to band together to tackle the flood problem. She said water-pushing devices have been placed at sections of Khlong Lenpaen, Khlong Raharn and Khlong Sakae-ngarm, which connect to major canals _ Khlong Maha Chai and Khlong Ratchamontri _ before floodwater is drained to the Gulf.

The devices pushed 7 million cu/m of water to the sea a day, she said.

The BMA had a maximum water drainage capacity of 18 million cu/m of water a day, said Ms Rosana.

The RID could block about 30 million cu/m of northern runoff from entering Bangkok’s western side a day and drain some 5 million cu/m of water into Khlong Phasicharoen a day.

If all agencies had worked at their full capacity to drain floodwater out of Bangkok, Thon Buri would not face prolonged flooding, she said.

Key government agencies have left Thon Buri defenceless against flooding, she charged.

The dredging of clogged canals has helped lower canal water levels, she said. At Khlong Lenpaen, soldiers had dredged the canal and the level had come down by more than 10cm a day, she said.

She was confident floodwater would quickly flow into the sea if canals were dredged.

She blamed the government and the BMA for underestimating the flooding situation. Over the past weeks, floodwaters could not be drained out to the sea due to clogged canals.

Protesters from flooded communities in Pathum Thani affected by the controversial big bag barrier agreed to disperse yesterday after authorities promised to speed up drainage from their waterlogged neighbourhoods.

Pathum Thani governor Kachornsak Singtokul and relevant agencies met for talks with representatives from the protesters earlier yesterday.

It was agreed the governor will take their complaints to the Flood Relief Operation Command (Froc) and the government to find ways to expedite the draining of water from their communities.

Residents from Nakhon Rangsit municipality in Pathum Thani’s Thanya Buri district are angry that their communities have been under water for more than a month and that no one has shown up to try and help them.

Irrigation Department authorities have also promised to repair three damaged water pumps from a total of 22 at Chulalongkorn sluice gate to pump water from Rangsit Prayurasak canal into the Chao Phraya River at full capacity.

Pakornpat Uatheptrakul, the protest leader, said Nakhon Rangsit municipality and local bodies lacked the capacity to cope with the massive deluge and to drain floodwater effectively.

He said the Froc must step in to ease the suffering of affected residents.

Previously, a group of angry residents from 20 housing estates in Don Muang removed sandbags from the big bag wall. The Froc and City Hall agreed to keep the gap in the barrier open to ease the suffering of affected residents.

They also agreed to widen the gap from six metres to 10 so that it could serve as a spillway to allow stagnant floodwater north of the flood wall to pass through and to function as a passage way for boat traffic in the area.

Froc spokesman Thongthong Chandrangsu said yesterday that workers and soldiers had already finished working on the big bag wall as had been agreed.

Half the 10m-wide gap in the barrier has now been repaired and will serve as a weir while the other half has been left open to allow boat traffic to pass through.

Mr Thongthong also said Don Muang residents affected by the big bag barrier were satisfied that their demands were met, although police have been sent to maintain order at the flood wall.

Air force commander, ACM Itthaporn Subhawong, yesterday said Don Mueang airport now looks like a reservoir as northern runoff on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road continues to surge onto airport land.

He said urgent steps must be taken to drain the area and at the same time ensure it will not affect local residents.

Meanwhile, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday said the floodwater levels on Kamphaeng Phet Road, Phahon Yothin Road and in Ratchadaphisek Soi 36 (Soi Suea Yai Uthit) have dropped. The water in some areas was down to between 15-20cm.

MR Sukhumbhand, who inspected the areas yesterday, said if there is no more northern runoff, areas in Chatuchak district and the five-way Lat Phrao intersection should be dry this weekend.

In eastern Bangkok, floodwater around the Bangchan and Lat Krabang industrial estates began to recede yesterday.

The Department of Special Investigation has agreed to look into alleged irregularities involving procurement of relief supplies for flood victims.

A petition was lodged by deputy permanent secretary for the interior Pracha Terat to investigate allegations involving the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said his deputy Pol Col Narat Sawettanant has been working with the Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) to investigate the allegations. The probe team will be headed by Thanin Prempri.

He said the agency would accept the matter as a special case if there is sufficient evidence found to back up the allegations.

Mr Tharit said all concerned parties, including private firms which were contracted to provide relief supplies, will be summoned to give statements.

He said the inquiry may date back to the procurement of relief supplies during the tenure of the Democrat-led administration.

“We don’t want any allegations that the probe targets the Pheu Thai administration. We want the probe to be comprehensive,” he said.

Mr Pracha said the Interior Ministry has set up an investigation team but decided to seek the DSI’s intervention to ensure transparency.

The move follows Democrat MP Wilat Chantarapitak’s criticism of the government’s handling of the flood crisis during last week’s House meeting.

Mr Wilat claimed the procurement of 100,000 relief supply bags worth 800 baht each was approved on Oct 19, the same day that the contracted firms issued invoices.

The procurement order was signed by a deputy director-general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, instead of the head of the department.

It was reported that the procurement was authorised by Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit in his capacity as chair of the Flood Relief Fund.

Meanwhile, Mr Yongyuth has ordered changes to the subcommittee on flood relief supply management.

Deputy permanent secretary for commerce Rachen Potjanasunthorn has replaced Chamroen Yutithamkul, inspector-general attached to the PM’s Office, as the subcommittee head.

The order to change the subcommittee was signed on Nov 9 as the alleged irregularities surfaced.

It is reported the change was made upon the order of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.