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No quick fix for flooding problem: PM

Oct 17. 2017
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By The Nation

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PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said it was impossible for Thailand to be completely flood-free as long as there was no comprehensive overhaul of city planning, the water-drainage system or littering solutions. 

However, his government was ready to take care of all those affected. 

“Problems have already persisted for a long time,” he said. He also pointed out that several proposed solutions had been held up because of land expropriation problems and the huge amounts of money required.

Prayut spoke up after flooding hit many provinces in the country, including Bangkok, in the past week. 

The prime minister said some dykes needed to immediately discharge water to prevent a recurrence of the big floods seen during the 2011 flood crisis. 

“I know some rivers and canals are overflowing in areas without embankments … the government will take care of affected people,” he said. 

The Royal Irrigation Department’s deputy director general Thongplew Kongjun said Prayut had instructed the relevant agencies to communicate the latest flood information they had with each other and the public.

“The Agriculture Ministry and the Interior Ministry will work together in extending assistance to people in flood-hit areas,” Thongplew said. 

He added that the relevant authorities would inform people when his department expected the floods to subside. 

According to Thongplew, flooding from the Northeast stemmed from the fact that the Ubolrat Dam in Khon Kaen province had been forced to increase its volume of discharged water from 46 to 50 million cubic metres a day. 

As for the Chao Phraya River basin, Thongplew said Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani should no longer be affected by high tides after today. 

“Rain will also continue in Bangkok,” he said.

Agriculture Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya said he would try to ensure that the Chao Phraya Dam in Chainat province would not release more than 2.600 cubic metres of water per second. 

“That way, only areas without an embankment along the Chao Phraya River will be affected,” he explained.

Meanwhile, heavy downpours continued to cause floods and landslides in various provinces yesterday. The latest victim was the director of Phetchabun’s Phupha Daeng Wildlife Sanctuary, whose pickup truck was caught in whirling floodwaters. 

The death of Sudjit Khorthong lifted the death toll in the latest floods to four, following three deaths that had been reported in Loei on October 10.

Sudjit’s body was retrieved at 9.30am at a spot three kilometres from the scene where his truck was found surrounded by torrential floodwater four and a half hours earlier in Tambon Pak Chong. His body will be sent for a funeral at a temple in Muang Phetchabun.

Sudjit was on his way to a meeting in Phitsanulok when his truck was swept into a roadside creek, police said. Sudjit reportedly travelled alone to the meeting because he had instructed his subordinates to join other officials in clearing a local road that had been affected by a landslide.

The pre-dawn Lom Sak landslide happened between kilometre markers No 375 and 376 on the Lom Sak- Chumpae road in Tambon Buan Klang. 

Meanwhile, locals were relieved after a crocodile that escaped from a breeding farm in Phetchabun on Saturday was re-captured yesterday morning, police said. 

The bloated Mun River in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Phimai district continued to flood three more tambons after two tambons were hit last week. State offices and homes in Tambon Nai Muang, Tambon Tha Luang, Tambon Bote, Tambon Than Lalod and Tambon Samrit as well as 4,000 rai (640 hectares) of paddy fields were submerged in up to 40cm of water. In Chaiyaphum, where six districts were flood-affected, army Region 2 soldiers were building a temporary bridge for about 1,000 families as the road to their 10 villages were made impassable by flooding. 

The increased levels of water released by Khon Kaen’s Ubolrat caused floods to downstream farmlands and homes in Nam Pong district.

The business area of Loei’s Dan Sai district was hit by run-off from several mountains at 2am yesterday after hours of heavy rain but thankfully, the water subsided at about 7am.

Mountain run-off caused the Nam Pad Canal to burst its banks and inundate Ban Nam Pad School in Pitsanulok’s None Maprang district at 5am. This was the 10th time this year the school had been submerged, the lowest points being the teachers’ residences and the schools’ cafeteria, which were under 1.5 metres of water before the flood finally subsided at 9am. 

In Lampang, an eight-rai area of Mae Mo municipality was declared a disaster zone after days of heavy rain opened wide cracks in the earth and eight homes were threatened by erosion. 

Mayor Chucheep Boonnak said the declaration followed an inspection by Mineral Resources Office 1 officials who believe the subsidence might stem from layers of soil separating after becoming saturated. Twenty-two tenants in eight affected homes also had to be evacuated.

In Phayao’s Muang district, soldiers yesterday waded through one-metre-deep water to save 40 pigs from a flooded farm in Tambon Huai Kaew.

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