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Floodwalls 'could worsen situation'

Feb 02. 2012
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By THE NATION

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The Stop Global Warming Association (SGWA) is threatening to take authorities to court if they go ahead with plans to encourage the construction of floodwalls around industrial estates.

“The plans will mean higher flood-water levels for people living near the industrial estates,” SGWA president Srisuwan Janya said yesterday. 

 
He said the permanent floodwalls would have serious social and environmental impacts because they would change the natural water-flow routes. 
 
The Finance Ministry has supported the Government Savings Bank (GSB) scheme to offer soft loans for floodwall constructions to entrepreneurs whose factories are located along flood ways.
“Have the relevant authorities thought about people living nearby? Have they prepared appropriate remedial actions for people,” Srisuwan said. 
 
He told the authorities to listen to the voice of affected people otherwise they would proceed to court for help. 
 
“The Constitution has prescribed public participation,” Srisuwan said.
Noppadon Tiyajai, deputy secretary-general at Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning, yesterday said the construction of floodwalls might not need environmental-impact assessments. 
 
“But, of course, authorities will take into account the impact of the planned construction on local communities and ecology,” he said. 
 
At a seminar on “the King’s Science of Resolving National Crisis”, Pramote Maiklad – a former chief of the Royal Irrigation Department – lamented that the current government as well as many previous administrations had failed to follow HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s initiatives in solving water-related problems for the country. 
 
“His Majesty’s initiatives in fact are very practical,” Pramote said. 
 
He said the key concepts were about efficient water-drainage systems, proper co-existence with nature, and moving settlements out of risky zones. 
 
“The government needs to understand the nature and the social geography,” Pramote said.
He said His Majesty had planned water management based on information he gathered firsthand during his trips to provinces. 
“But today, many policy-makers are just looking at ceilings and doing the planning,” Pramote said. 
 
Pramote, who sits on the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management, was not impressed with the flood-prevention plan recently unveiled by Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee. 
 
“This plan won’t really help if the amount of water this year is as massive as the last one,” Pramote pointed out. 
 
The flood crisis hit the country hard last year, causing hundreds of deaths, ravaging many factories, and throwing the lives of millions in disarray. 
 
Many parties both in the government and the private sectors are still struggling to fix the flood-caused damage. 
 
Meanwhile, Japan yesterday handed over Bt200,000 in cash to Thailand for post-flood rehabilitation efforts. 

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