Thursday, October 20, 2011

Plans to let capital flood ruled out

Plans to let capital flood ruled out

The government has ruled out a proposal to allow runoffs to pass through Bangkok before draining into the sea.

"The situation does not warrant flooding all of Bangkok because the water can still be diverted via the capital's eastern areas," Flood Relief Operations Centre (FROC) director Pracha Promnok said yesterday.

He added that the water could flow through the city's three main canals, Saen Saep, Prawet and Phra Khanong.

Sluice gates on the eastern outskirts were put in operation from Wednesday to divert water to the three canals under a timetable designed to minimise the chances of flash floods, he said.

He voiced optimism that overland flow and runoffs from the north of the city would not inundate inner Bangkok.

Banned Thai Rak Thai and People Power Party executives, known as House No 111 and 109, held a brainstorming session to map out a floodcontrol proposal for the government.

According to the proposal, Bangkok should allow water to pass through certain areas, such as Don Muang, to protect the inner city and the central business district. The city has the capacity to pump out and drain the water within six hours, as it normally does after heavy downpours.

Drainage via Bangkok would rein in the massive runoffs and overland flow, which would otherwise break down the system of dykes and levees, causing greater damage.

The proposal was the brainchild of two senior officials, deputy permanent secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Suphot Tovichakchaikul and irrigation project director Somkiart Prachamwong.

Somkiart said the volume of water heading to the capital was estimated at 10 billion cubic metres, including the water retained in lowlying areas in the Central region from Chai Nat to Nonthaburi. The amount of water is close to the capacity of Bhumibol Dam, which can accommodate 13 billion cubic metres.

To prevent flooding, it is imperative that the overland flow is drained as quickly as possible into the sea, especially since additional runoff and heavy rain are expected to worsen the situation later this month.

Democrat spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalyasut said the government appeared confused in implementing floodcontrol measures.

In a recent incident, the government and relevant agencies appeared to lack clear direction in tackling the contamination of raw water reserved to produce drinking water, he said in reference to the runoffs flowing into the main waterworks canal. He said his party would like to repeat its call for the imposition of the emergency decree.

The government has called off a scheduled meeting to put up barriers around Government House. Officials said they had been instructed to move equipment and documents to higher areas as a precaution, but sandbag barriers would not be put up at this juncture.
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