Sunday, October 16, 2011

Academics question moves used to stop flood

The Nation October 17, 2011 8:04 am
The Department of Irrigation |yesterday came under attack from academics for using conventional methods of draining the unusually high volume of flood water into canals north of Bangkok, which they said would not save inner Bangkok from flooding.

Dr Seri Suapathit, director of the Disaster Warning Centre at Rangsit University, said Bankgok has not escaped the flood crisis yet. Although a large mass of run-off water had passed Bangkok, the capital still faced a high tide at the end of the month. If the department failed to properly manage water in Rangsit-area canals extending from Pathum Thani, there was still a chance that Bangkok would flood.

"The department must reach an understanding with the locals who oppose drainage work, otherwise efforts to drain water will be further delayed,'' he said.

Dr Suthat Weerasakul of the Asian Institute of Technology said conventional water-management methods will not save Bangkok from floods because of the unusually large amount of water involved.

The academics said roads in Pathum Thani are currently blocking the flow of flood water to canals. They urged the Department of Irrigation to turn the roads into drainage channels.

If this is not done, they say, the water could overflow canals in Rangsit and flood first northern Bangkok, then the inner city. The roads should be dug out to about 5 metres, they say, and could be made passable by temporary bridges built over each.

He said if the roads were cut to allow flood waters to flow into drainage canals, eastern districts of Bangkok, Ayuthaya and Pathum Thani would see the level of flood waters drop by 50 centimetres to one metre.

The amount of time for which people's homes would be flooded would be halved, he said.

"The government should not wait till flood waters overflow Rangsit canals, because it will be too late,'' he said.

Dr Thaweewong Sriburi, director of Chulalongkorn University's Research Institute, said the methods being used to tackle the flood problems do not address the problems at the root. He said the country's development had not been planned based on existing studies. The areas housing industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani were not suitable for heavy industry because they were low-lying, the academic said.

"Nava Nakhon Industrial Estate, for instance, is blocking the waterway. The government must be strict with land use. The Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning must play a bigger role.

The government must consider and put into use research and studies on land use that have already been conducted,'' he said.
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