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Mini-flood crisis centre being set up

Officials from 17 agencies are set to work together at a new unit - dubbed the mini Flood Relief Operations Centre (Froc) - to oversee efficient national water management.

Floods have ravaged many provinces, including Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Angthong.

Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawadee, in his capacity as chairman of the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC), ordered the setting up of the Water Situation Monitoring and Analysis Centre.

"The relevant authorities are required to send their representatives to this centre to forge closer cooperation," an informed source at Government House disclosed yesterday.

According to the source, the new centre is in the Office of National Water and Flood Management Policy.

"It's not Froc because relevant authorities have not yet been required to move all their stuff to this centre," the source said.

Froc was set up last year to try to contain a huge crisis that ended up doing billions of baht worth of dam?age.

Plodprasop said yesterday that the government was now confident it would be able to tackle flood threats efficiently this year.

"Current water volume is much lower than last year," he said.

Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit said flooding had only hit some areas in affected provinces such as Sukhothai.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk added: "The situation in Sukhothai should return to normal within a few days if there is no additional rainfall."

The disaster prevention and mitigation chief for Phitsanulok, Boonying Khumsuphan, said the water level in Phrom Phiram, Muang and Bang Rakam districts was likely to increase by at least 50 centimetres today because run-off water from Sukhothai was heading downstream.

"In some low-lying areas, the flood-water level may soar above 1 metre," he warned.

In Angthong's Pa Moke district, Wipada Kesbamrung lamented that flood water around her home was becoming so polluted she could hardly sleep because of the smell.

In Pathum Thani, flood water has swamped some local villages and markets near Rangsit Prayoonsak Canal.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the water level in many canals in the capital was rising but was still at manageable levels.

He said recent flooding in Bangkok was a result of heavy downpours, as it took some time to drain all rainwater away.

"On affected key roads, we can do it in a few hours, but it takes longer elsewhere," he said.

In a related development, the Network of Northern River Basins proposed 11 guidelines for sustainable water management, including small community dykes. The network, however, expressed opposition against any plan to build large dams.




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