By Prapasri Osathanon
THE NATIONAL Reform Council (NRC) was told yesterday that parts of Bangkok and nearby provinces were at great risk of sinking in the next 15 years if no action is taken to prevent it.
The government has been urged to set up a national panel to handle the problem of rising tides and land subsidence, implement solutions and promote public participation.
Wittaya Kulsomboon, chairman of the NRC panel on preparation for rising tides and land subsidence in Bangkok, cited the committee’s report that the area was 0.5-2 metres above sea level and there had been a rapid urban growth and increase in population. Combined with natural sinking, the subsidence was accelerated by the high and prolonged use of underground water and the weight of tall buildings. He said Bangkok had some 700 buildings more than 20 storeys high and 4,000 buildings eight to 20 storeys high.
Wittaya said many electric train lines also aggravated the risk of sinking into the sea to parts of Bangkok and its vicinity areas in future. It could even necessitate the relocation of the capital city, he warned. The NRC discussed and voted to acknowledge the report and have the committee review it before proposing to the Cabinet in seven days.
Sucharit Koontanakulvong, a panel member and water-engineering expert, said preventive measures included control over underwater usage, and a city plan to regulate control of tall buildings. As the Gulf of Thailand sees rising tides each year, an idea has been floated to build a barrier dam from Chon Buri to Prachuap Khiri Khan, which could require Bt500 billion, he added.