Prachin Buri 'unable to protect itself'

national October 12, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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Water official says govt's Bt350-bn project would prevent heavy flooding

Reacting to the heavy flooding in Prachin Buri, which has been inundated since September 19, the acting director-general of the Office of the National Water and Flood Management Policy yesterday said the water-management mechanism in this eastern province was meant to accommodate the irrigation system, not drainage or flood prevention.
Suphot Tovichakchaikul stressed the importance of the government’s Bt350-billion water-management programme, which he said would prevent such heavy flooding. It would include a project to build a network of floodways to convey floodwater to the Bang Pakong River, along with other measures to prevent the water from spilling over into Prachin Buri’s urban areas, especially heavily flooded Kabin Buri and Si Maha Pho.
If all the projects under the Bt350-billion scheme are complete within five years, residents will be safe from annual flooding, even those living in low-lying areas or along banks of waterways, he said.
Suphot added that the current situation in Prachin Buri could only get better because the high-tide period on Wednesday and Thursday has passed. 
Asked whether residents of Kabin Buri and Si Maha Pho would continue to face heavy flooding throughout the five-year period of the water-management project, he said certain sectors of floodways could be completed in one to two years’ time. However, the overall completion of all projects was set at five years.
Four field hospitals have been set up in Prachin Buri, with extra doctors and staff mobilised from several provinces not affected by floods, said Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong. 
Patients with chronic diseases have been relocated from local hospitals, while an ad hoc coordination system has been set up inside a military barracks, and flood-prevention measures are in place at Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, a major facility.
Mobile medical teams have made 1,100 visits and treated 78,000 people, Pradit said. He called on those travelling in boats to keep buoyancy equipment ready to minimise the chance of drowning.
Flooding has eased in 14 provinces while 28 others are still affected, according to an official daily situational update, which puts the number of casualties at 39 – lower than the Public Health Ministry’s figure of 51.
Staff at a national museum in Prachin Buri are moving artefacts up to its second floor as floodwater is threatening to submerge the first floor. Soldiers from local Army units are helping move heavy showpieces.
Flooding in Amata Industrial Estate in Chon Buri’s Muang and Phan Thong districts has receded, with vehicles now able to travel in and out. The situation should return to normal within the next few days if there is no more heavy rains, as speculated by news reports.

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