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Industrial estates ‘safe’ from deluge

Posted by arnon_k On November - 15 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Bangchan and Lat Krabang industrial estates in eastern Bangkok should be safe from floods because they are located in areas where water can be controlled, authorities say.

Anond Snidvongs, an academic on the Flood Relief Operation Command’s water drainage committee, said yesterday that unlike industrial estates in Ayutthaya province, Bangchan and Lat Krabang industrial estates were in areas where the water was under control for the time being.

“Industrial estates in the two areas are under different conditions in their vicinities,” Mr Anond said.

“Water from Bang Chan and Lat Krabang [districts] can be controlled; otherwise, it would be much higher than that in Ayutthaya.

“Water in Bang Chan can be contained at 1.5m [above mean sea level], lower than the critical level of 1.6m that the industrial estate has set. Without this control, the water level would have been higher a long time ago.”

Mr Anond said removing big sandbags in Don Muang district would not send floodwater to Victory Monument; however it would slow down flood drainage in Don Muang and Laksi districts.

As long as there are no further removals of big sandbags in Don Muang, he believed that the heart of Bangkok would be safe from flooding.

Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva inspected the situation at Bangchan Industrial Estate yesterday.

He said water was being rapidly discharged from Khlong Bang Chan inside the estate into Khlong Saen Saep and floodwater in front of the industrial estate should recede as a result of the effort.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said the army was doing its best to protect Bangchan and Lat Krabang industrial estates in eastern Bangkok.

He said the management of both estates sought help from the military and the government ordered soldiers to meet the requests. Soldiers have built a few parallel lines of soil dykes around Bangchan Industrial Estate and by the canal passing through the compound.

Several tiers of the dykes are aimed at effectively preventing flooding and result from lessons at industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces where single-line dykes could not resist floodwater, the army chief explained.

Gen Prayuth also asked the government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration which are under control of rival political parties to join forces to solve the flooding problem.

In the medium term, the government should repair roads, and in the long term it should develop floodways and maintain waterways to effectively handle the floodwater in accordance with the advice of His Majesty the King, Gen Prayuth said.

Rangsit residents decry lack of assistance

Posted by arnon_k On November - 15 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

PATHUM THANI : Residents of flood-ravaged Muang Ake housing estate in the Rangsit area of Pathum Thani have cried foul over a lack of flood management and assistance from local administration bodies.

The residents have been left without help from local officials since former Pathum Thani governor Phirasak Hinmuangkao was abruptly transferred earlier this month, said Sakchai Thongwatthana, chairman of a group of Muang Ake residents calling itself “Khon Rak Muang Ake Club”.

About 2,000 families living in seven housing projects in the same estate that covers 7.2 sq km have been forced to live with about two metres of foul-smelling and rubbish-strewn floodwaters, he said yesterday.

A large number of residents had not moved out to an evacuation shelter because they were worried about looting, so they had to stay on even though the electricity supply is out, Mr Sakchai said.

Given the size of the area and the average depth of the floodwater, it was estimated that Muang Ake now held about 14.2 million cubic metres and if with a draining capacity of 1 million cu/m of water per day it would take two months for the estate to dry out, he said.

The residents were now relying on very limited boat services provided by the military, whereas the fares of boat services offered by private operators were unreasonably expensive, he said.

The local administration had not made an appearance since the transfer of the former governor, who had been working hard to help the flood victims before his move to an inactive post at the Interior Ministry, while the new governor has not made any of his flood relief plans known to the locals so far, Mr Sakchai said.

The presence of the 27km barrier of so-called “big bags” of sand that is aimed at slowing down the flood flow into Bangkok and protecting the inner city has frustrated the Muang Ake residents.

They blamed the flood barrier for delaying the flow of the floodwaters out of their community, Mr Sakchai said, citing the flood flow data revealed by the Energy for Environment Centre of the Sirindhorn International Environmental Park.

Experts urge ‘super waterway’

Posted by arnon_k On November - 15 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Outline new strategy to drain future runoff

A team of disaster experts from Chulalongkorn University says the construction of an express floodway is needed if certain areas of the country are to avoid future flood disasters.

The team, led by Thanawat Jarupongsakul, a lecturer at the faculty of science’s Unit for Disaster and Land Information Studies has proposed 11 flood preventive measures to permanently deal with flood disasters.

“One of the urgent solutions is a super-express floodway,” he said.

The floodway will link existing natural canals to drain runoff, starting from the 134km Chai Nat-Pasak canal stretching from Manorom district of Chai Nat to Tha Rua district of Ayutthaya, the 32km Rapeepat canal from Ha Rua district of Ayutthaya to Rangsit of Pathum Thani and the 30km Phra Ong Chaiyanuchit canal from Rangsit to the sea in Samut Prakan.

The total length of the super-express floodway would be about 200km. It would hold about 1.6 billion cubic metres of water and drain runoff at a rate of 6,000 cu/m per second.

Mr Thanawat said there should be 1km of empty land and two motorways (inbound and outbound) 6m above ground level along both sides of the floodway. He said this would prevent communities or properties next to the floodway from being inundated.

He said details such as the width and depth of canals needed to be further investigated.

“This idea is much cheaper than digging a new river as a floodway,” Mr Thanawat said.

He said in the past, there were several natural swamps, mostly in the west of the Central Plains, which had been turned into industrial estates and communities, so the natural floodway was blocked, resulting in areas being flooded.

To ease the flood problem, the super-express floodway should be built to directly drain the runoff into the sea.

This measure had helped to drain the water from upstream at the Chai Nat-Pasak canal.

“Of course, it will also have a bad effect as the areas along the canals have to be expropriated, but appropriate compensation must be provided to the affected residents,” he said.

Other measures should include an early disaster warning system, water resource management as a whole, flood tax, use of a flood-risk map for urban development, public participation in disaster management, groundwater use control, farming periods in accordance with climate variability and establishment of a disaster organisation.

Mr Thanawat said a direct flood tax must be collected from provinces or areas which are located in flood prevention systems, and an indirect flood tax should be collected from the owners of properties under the protection of flood prevention systems.

The figure will be used to compensate those affected by the deluge and to help preserve natural floodways.

“Now, the government must stop [trying to] solve flood problems with political methods and turn its attention instead to these 11 measures, especially the super-express floodway,” Mr Thanawat said.

“This year’s severe flooding was not from an excessive amount of rainfall, but [was due to] mistakes in the government’s water management.”

He said it should be realised the giant tunnels of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration can drain floodwater only in the city, not a massive volume of upstream runoff.

“If there is no step forward, foreign investors will eventually disappear from the country and the next generation will be still worried whether flooding will happen or not,” he said.

Govt accepts US help at Don Mueang

Posted by arnon_k On November - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

HONOLULU : The government has agreed to accept the United States’ assistance in draining and repairing the heavily flooded Don Mueang Airport, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

The US assistance was offered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a 35-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Hawaii.

US ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney had previously spoken to Vice Foreign Minister Jullapong Nonsrichai about possible US assistance for Thailand.

Mr Surapong said he requested US help in restoring Don Mueang after talking to Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, chairman of the Flood Relief Operations Command, and the Transport Ministry.

“The US does not want to be seen as intervening in our affairs, so they asked us to specify our needs,” Mr Surapong said.

“Our stance is not to seek help from others but we are willing to receive any assistance. So the ‘Save Don Mueang project’ was agreed upon.”

The US secretary of state will announce the measure at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her visit to Bangkok on Wednesday.

Mr Surapong said other Apec members expressed a desire to help Thailand.

The government wanted to drain the floodwater out of Bangkok as soon as possible and to do so would need more water pumps, he said.

During the meeting, Mrs Clinton asked Mr Surapong about a Thai proposal that the US use the U-tapao military airport for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Former foreign minister Kasit Piromya is thought to have raised the proposal with the US. The military has remained reserved about the idea.

Mr Surapong assured his US counterpart that Thai exports of fishery products have not been affected by the flood. The assurance followed reports the US Food and Drug Administration has stepped up checks on Thai food products imported to the US.