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Northern Bangkok under threat

Northern Bangkok under threat

Urgent plan to extend khlong as huge volume of water flows down from Ayutthaya; Nava Nakorn estate readies defences

Pathum Thani province and the northern part of Bangkok are now at risk of flooding as a huge amount of water from the Chao Phraya River and run-off from Ayutthaya and other flooded provinces flows southward.

The Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate and Rangsit area could be inundated if the huge amount of water is not properly diverted.

As a result, the Flood Relief Operations Command (FROC) has suggested there should be an urgent move to dig Klong Rapipat (South), covering a length of 3.5 km, to divert the water into the sea.

Pracha Promnok, the FROC chairman, said Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri had been assigned to talk with villagers in Ayutthaya's Wang Noi district about this urgent measure so as to properly drain off an estimated 200 million cubic metres of floodwater.
Meanwhile, the Bang Pa-In Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya was flooded yesterday. It is the fourth industrial park to be hit by massive flooding.

Bang Pa-In industrial estate has a total of 90 factories and 40,000 workers.

However, it is smaller than the Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani province, which is one of Thailand's largest industrial parks.

Nava Nakorn is home to 227 factories covering a combined area of 8,000 rai. A total of 180,000 workers are employed at this sprawling industrial park whose combined investment is estimated to top Bt100 billion.

In addition, there are more than 30,000 households with over 100,000 residents around the Nava Nakorn estate.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Army commander-in-chief, and Lerk-kiat Kaew-srichan, the deputy governor of Pathum Thani, yesterday joined the top management of Nava Nakorn to map out plans to help the industrial park avoid inundation as a massive amount of flood water flows downstream from Ayutthaya.

In Ayutthaya, Rojana, High-Tech (Bang Wa), Saharattana and Bang Pa-in industrial parks have already been swamped due to the unprecedented amount of water released from overloaded dams.

To try to prevent the Nava Nakorn estate from being inundated, officials yesterday reinforced the industrial park's northern area with more piling as the protection wall is at risk of being breached if the water rises by another 30cm.

They also reinforced the park's western and southern areas with an additional 100,000 sandbags.

Gen Prayuth said authorities had earlier faced a big challenge in preventing Rojana, High-Tech and Saharattana industrial estates going under the water largely because the amount of flood water was enormous.

"Nava Nakorn is next but this industrial estate is very well-prepared and if it succeeds in withstanding the force of the water it would be a good example [on how to cope with this kind of critical situation]."

"The government has focussed on helping big industrial parks because tens of thousands of people work in those places. If they are out of work for six to seven months, it would be a big problem due to the lack of income for their families," he said.

The government has been following HM the King's initiatives on flood water management. It was doing the utmost to discharge the water into the Gulf of Thailand as quickly as possible to alleviate hardship as more than 14 provinces in the Central region had been flooded, Gen Prayuth said.

Nipit Arunvongse Na Ayudhya, managing director of estate operator Nava Nakorn Plc, said yesterday that the park was located on the highest ground in Pathum Thani.

If the estate was flooded, the whole province would be flooded. The estate also had barriers that were 5 metres to 5.5 metres high.

Of the 270 firms in the park, 20 per cent have suspended operations, as suppliers in the flooded industrial zones cannot get components to them. The other 80 per cent were operating as usual. Major investors in the estate include Toshiba, which has a hard-disk drive plant, plus Kubota, Nestle and Oishi.


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