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Evacuation order issued in Thon Buri

Posted by arnon_k On November - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Relief likely in two days, residents told

City Hall has issued an evacuation order for 10 areas in Samae Dam sub-district of Bang Khun Thian district in western Bangkok’s Thon Buri side as floods there have continued to rise.

Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra in yesterday morning urged residents in three communities in Soi 88 on Rama II road _ the National Housing Authority Project 1 community, the Sap Sin Pattana community and the Chuem Samphan community _ to evacuate as the area had been submerged by rising floodwater.

In the afternoon, the governor declared an evacuation advisory in an additional seven communities in the sub-district. They are Keha Thon Buri Project 1’s section 1-6, Keha Thon Buri Project 2 and 3, Soi 69 on Rama II road, Soi 44-Soi 100 on Rama II road, Wat Nak Si Bat community, Wat Kok community, and Wat Kampaeng community.

The elderly, children and sick people are urged to leave immediately for designated shelters or other safe areas.

Overflow from Khlong Maha Sawat and Khlong Phasi Charoen caused the water level in those areas to rise rapidly.

MR Sukhumband ordered a 50cm increase to the barrier along Khlong Maha Sawat which already stood at 2.8 metres.

As of press time last night, Rama II Road remained open to traffic.

Runoff had approached the road but water had not crossed it, except for in especially low-lying areas.

The flood has also hit hard at the Royal Police Cadet Academy in Sam Phran district of Nakhon Pathom province.

Royal Irrigation Department chief Chalit Damrong-sak said the flooding situation in western Bangkok will significantly improve after Wednesday, when the low tide in the Chao Phraya and Tha Chin rivers which make efforts to drain water much easier.

In northern Bangkok, the flooding on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road continued to recede, with the water level at Lat Phrao intersection reducing to around 30cm. Floodwater on Phahon Yothin, Vibhavadi Rangsit and Ratchadaphisek roads is still being held back from heading into inner Bangkok by Khlong Bang Sue, from where City Hall is managing to pump water out at full capacity.

MR Sukhumbhand said City Hall’s pumping stations are working around the clock to drain floodwater out of major roads and communities.

Four more water pumps have also been deployed at Vibhavadi Rangsit Road to speed the drainage of the flooded areas, while a further 10 pumps have been installed at Lat Phrao Soi 56.

The governor said 255 volunteers helped City Hall to collect rubbish in flooded areas in 25 Bangkok districts.

About 817 tonnes of rubbish was collected yesterday, he said, adding more boats are needed for waste collection in heavily flooded communities inaccessible by vehicles.

The governor said about 200,000 portable toilets have been manufactured for distribution to flood victims.

Around 10,000 bottles of mosquito repellent are also being produced daily to give to residents in flooded areas, he said.

The water level in Khlong Maha Sawat at the Khlong Thawi Watthana sluice gate was still high, with canalside communities remaining inundated. Drainage authorities were sent to build a 7.5km sandbag floodwall to stem the flow of floodwater, of which 4.5km had been finished as of last night, MR Sukhumbhand said, adding that three water pumps were also helping drainage efforts.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said Highway 340 (Bang Bua Thong-Suphan Buri) was set to be cleared of floodwater by yesterday evening. The government hoped to reopen the highway as an alternative route to the South in the event that the key route, Rama II Road, is forced to close.

If Highway 340 is serviceable, motorists bound for the South would be able to drive from Bang Bua Thong through Bang Yai, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom.

Floods lawsuit politically motivated, says Pheu Thai

Posted by arnon_k On November - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

The move to file a lawsuit against the Yingluck Shinawatra government for its handling of the floods is politically motivated, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit says.

Chulalongkorn University economist Narong Phetpraset is working with the Lawyers Council of Thailand to sue the government and authorities concerned over their alleged mismanagement of the crisis on behalf of flood victims.

The government has come under fire for its policy of stocking up water for farming, resulting in the forced release of massive volumes of water in major dams, causing flooding downstream.

Mr Narong accuses the government of negligence by issuing administrative orders which caused huge financial losses and harm.

Mr Prompong said yesterday the move is politically motivated and aimed at discrediting the government.

He insisted the government has tried its best to resolve the crisis.

Mr Prompong pointed out that during the previous Abhisit Vejjajiva government there was severe flooding in the South which resulted in many deaths

He wondered why Mr Narong did not sue the Abhisit government if he felt so strongly about it.

Mr Prompong also said the move by the Democrat Party to sue Justice Minister and chief of the Flood Relief Operations Command Pracha Promnok over alleged foul play in the procurement of flood relief bags was only political game-playing.

He said Pheu Thai has set up a working panel to monitor the work of the Froc to to ensure transparency in flood relief.

Mr Prompong urged the Democrat Party to engage in constructive criticism and to avoid being litigious, Mr Prompong said.

Factories dry out, workersstill stranded

Posted by arnon_k On November - 14 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Many workers in Ayutthaya province have expressed concern about how they will get to work if the industrial estates where their employers are based are salvaged, but their routes to work remain flooded.

Dao and Rungthong (surnames not given), employees of a lingerie factory in Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate, said they were eager to return to work after the flood forced them to stay idle for almost a month.

The company has provided them with a full salary for the first month of flooding but their pay in subsequent months will be reduced.

Industrial estates are racing against time to pump out water from their compounds, with some factories scheduled to restart production on Dec 15.

Floodwaters at those industrial estates have gradually receded, with many factories drying out, but the level in some areas around the estates remains high.

Ms Dao said floodwaters in her home area were still chest-deep. If she is called back to work at her factory, she will not be able to afford the boat fares, which are around 100-200 baht a trip for her commute.

“Many factories are ready to restart production as their areas are dry, but workers’ living quarters around the estates are still inundated. How can we go to work?” Ms Dao asked.

“We would have to travel by boat, but the fares are as high as our daily wages.”

Ying, another worker in Ayutthaya, expressed concern about the quality of water pumped out from those industrial estates into paddy fields and public areas around the estates.

The water was tainted by oil and chemicals, Ms Ying said, adding that neither state agencies nor the industrial estate authorities had told residents about tainted water.

Now, residents dare not collect morning glory from ponds as they fear the vegetable might be contaminated.

Lek, 75, a native of Ayutthaya, said his family has been hit by the flooding, but relief supplies had not reached his family.

He said he had waded through floodwaters to receive relief bags, but they had already been distributed before he arrived.

Mr Lek thanked a group of workers who shared their food with his family.

Big bag barrier under threat

Posted by arnon_k On November - 13 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Residents threaten protests, force open wall to release water

The government’s big bag barrier, credited with sparing inner Bangkok from flooding, is under threat.
Residents of Don Muang district say the barrier is prolonging flooding in their area, and are threatening protest action.

They demand the government say how much longer they will have to live with the floodwater.

Thinnakorn Janya, head of the residents of Yucharoen housing estate, said he and 20 community leaders from nearby estates will meet at 9am today to discuss what action to take.

They are considering three options: blocking the Don Muang Tollway, holding a prolonged protest on the crest of the barrier, or rallying outside parliament.

The leaders will vote at today’s meeting to decide which of these measures to take.

Mr Thinnakorn said residents wanted the government to come up with an action plan to ease flooding in their areas where the big bag barrier, built from sandbags weighing 2.5 tonnes each, has retained floodwater for many days.

“They are swamping us with water. If we weren’t in such despair, we wouldn’t be shouting for help,” he said.

Mr Thinnakorn said the government must clarify the amount of time it would take to pump out water inside the barrier.

“When will our area be dry again? We’ve been underwater for three weeks now,” he said. Mr Thinnakorn discounted claims by local MP Karun Hosakul of the ruling Pheu Thai Party that only 10,000 people live inside the barrier.

Mr Karun yesterday met Flood Relief Operation Commands (Froc) chief Pracha Promnok to discuss the residents’ complaint following a report that up to 80,000 people had signed a petition demanding the big bags’ removal.

He claimed that only 10,000 people had signed the petition.

Mr Thinnakorn said that number referred only to those officially registered as householders of each property, but in reality many more share the homes.

Mr Karun said many residents in the district have endured suffering as a result of the installation of the big bags.

The big bag barrier has formed a vast belt encompassing 20 residential estates along the northern railway line and across Don Mueang airport and parts of Phahon Yothin Road.

The authorities insisted the big bags helped slow water flowing into the city from the North, granting the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) enough time to drain water from the canals that protect inner Bangkok.

The erection of the big bag barrier, however, provoked an angry response from communities surrounded by it.

The pressure prompted authorities to remove some bags and make a gap of two metres in the barrier to release water. The gap was later widened to six metres. However, yesterday the gap was sealed.

Mr Thinnakorn said it was unclear who closed the gap.

He and about 200 residents worked to open the gap back to six metres again with their bare hands yesterday in the presence of police and soldiers.

The water behind the barrier was 60cm higher than water outside it.

Mr Thinnakorn insisted the residents were not pressing to have the barrier removed.

Rather, the authorities should map out a blueprint to control water flow from North and siphon water from housing estates by, for example, creating small gaps at intervals along the barrier.

The barrier should also be built in a chamber system so the water could be better manipulated.

He said authorities lack an integrated flood management plan, which left some areas inundated for extended periods.

Mr Thinnakorn said the big bags restricted people’s freedom of mobility, which is against the law.

“Our boats can’t get past the bags and boats are the people’s only mode of transport around here,” he added.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the big bags were an effective water management tool, but he was concerned some residents might dismantle the barrier if the floods became too much to bear.

However, he would discuss with the Froc if it was still necessary to keep the big bag barrier.

Seri Suparathit, a water expert at Rangsit University, said the BMA has enough capacity to pump out water and save the inner city even if the gap in the barrier was opened over its entire length.