Thursday, October 20, 2011

PM: Diverting water to east

Bangkok Post

Efforts will be made to divert as much water as possible to the eastern part of Bangkok and drain it into the sea, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Thursday.
Ms Yingluck said this during a meeting with water management experts including former Bangkok governor Bhichit Rattakul, Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Surasawadi, and Royal Irrigation Department chief Chalit Damrongsak.

The prime minister said all watergates should be opened and shut periodically as needed to regulate water flows in an easterly direction to drain water out through the various canals.

She said the floodwalls surrounding Bangkok would only help deter the flood torrent.

Floodwaters had not yet reached the Tha Chin River because it is on a higher ground. Therefore, it was necessary to quickly drain water out to the East, she said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
Ms Yingluck said Transport Minister Sukampol Suwannathat had been assigned to look after the floodwall along Khlong Hok Wa, which is the responsibility of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, to see if it should be further reinforced.

The overall flood prevention system of the BMA was under control, as well as the surge of floodwater into Khlong Prapa, which provides raw water for the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority.

The premier asked the people to cooperate so that water could flow easily along all canals, adding that it was impossible to protect all of Bangkok from the floods.

"We cannot block the water forever," Ms Yingluck said, adding that the government would choose which parts of the city to allow the water through to minimise the impact.

"The longer we block the water the higher it gets," she said. "We need areas that water can be drained through so the water can flow out to the sea."

Royal Irrigation official Chalit said all watergates on Khlong Rangsit canals 4-12 would be opened to allow the free flow of water down to low-lying areas.

Justice Minister and Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) director Pracha Promnok said about 90 per cent of Bangkok will not be flooded.

"I'm confident that 90 per cent of Bangkok will not be flooded but authorities will continue monitoring the remaining 10 per cent of the capital city.

"After overseeing the flood situation from helicopter this morning, the situation remains stable," Pol Gen Pracha said after visiting a temporary shelter in Don Mueang airport.

He said people living in the inner Bangkok should not be worried about the flood situation, and asked motorists not to illegally park their cars on elevated expressways.

The minister denied that the widespread flooding was like a fresh water tsunami, but expressed concern about how best to release the tremendous amount of water into the sea.

He said officials in Bangkok had started releasing water into three main canals at regular intervals since yesterday. The three canals are Phra Khanong, Prawase and Saen Saep.

The BMA had worked well with the flood centre. Bangkok authorities had started building a 26-kilometre flood wall, he said.

The government's flood centre chief lauded the army for its cooperation with the government and using its expertise to help mitigate flood problems.

"A contingency plan has been prepared but we cannot disclose the details yet because it could create chaos. We'll have to wait for the proper time," said Pol Gen Pracha, who insisted last week that the runoff from the North was under control and Bangkok would not be inundated.

He said the flood centre had explained the flood situation to residents in some areas who tried to stop officials from opening water gates.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the BMA had piled up sandbags at Siriraj and Prannok piers along the Chao Phraya River to a height of 2.8 metres above mean sea level. Water pumps were also installed in those areas and teams of officials set up to monitor the water level around the clock.

On Wednesday night, Siriraj Hospital and Bangkok Noi district authorities jointly put up a floodwall of sandbags around the hospital with a height of 1.20 metres above the road surface to prevent flooding.

His Majesty the King is currently in Siriraj Hospital.

The BMA has been put on full alert for high sea tides adding to the flood crisis until the end of this month.

MR Sukhumbhand said all sluice gates in the capital have already been opened to help drain floodwater.

The sluice gate at Khlong 2 canal was opened by one metre to drain water from Pathum Thani's Nava Nakorn. At Thawee Wattana and Mahasawat canals, the sluice gates were opened by 80cm, the governor said.

Three months of heavy monsoon rains have killed 320 people, damaged the homes and livelihoods of millions of people, mostly in northern and central Thailand, and forced tens of thousands to seek refuge in shelters.
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