Situation improving: Yingluck
Cabinet to mull measures for victims tomorrowPrime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday announced that the flood situation on the eastern side of the Chao Phraya River would fully return to normal in the third week of December.
A special Cabinet meeting would be held tomorrow to consider remedial measures for flood victims, she said.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said the death toll from the floods had risen to 680, with three persons missing, while 12 million rai of farmland was affected. About 4.4 million people in 83 districts of 10 provinces continued to be affected by the floods. The Fishery Department reported 400 complaints seeking officials' help to capture crocodiles from flood-affected areas in Bangkok and Nonthaburi alone. Officials had managed to capture 12 crocodiles.
Addressing the people through her weekly television and radio programme yesterday morning, Yingluck said the flood situation had much improved though some communities were still suffering due to blockage of flood water, especially in Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom. Overall, the eastern side of the Chao Phraya River, although still having some flooded communities in Don Muang, Rangsit and Lam Luk Ka areas, should return to normal in the third week of December.
Officials continued to drain flood water out of the western side of the Chao Phraya River. Bangkok's Bang Khae district would be dry this week, she said, and officials would speedily assist residents of 200 flooded communities in Pathum Thani and Nakhon Pathom so that they would be back to normal by the end of December.
As for the flood water trapped in fields in the lower northern and central regions, they would be used for agriculture and rice growing, Yingluck said, urging residents of the upper North and Northeast to brace for drought and reserve water for use.
Yingluck also invited members of the public to join her and state officials in Bangkok's Don Muang district for a "Big Cleaning Day" event today. She urged flood-affected residents to submit documents to avail of the government's Bt5,000 assistance money. The PM said that a Cabinet special meeting would be held tomorrow to consider remedial measures for flood victims and rehabilitation plans. There would also be a video conference with related provincial governors so that the aid would proceed speedily.
Agriculture Minister Theera Wongsamut said yesterday that he would ask the Cabinet for an additional Bt18 billion to assist flood-affected people. After the Cabinet had allocated Bt8 billion for post-flood rehabilitation projects for farmers, he said more people and areas had become affected. The Flood Recovery and Restoration Committee (FRRC) and the Flood Recovery and Restoration Committee on Economy, Industry and Livelihood agreed to ask for an additional Bt18-billion budget. The government would also consider helping farmers via measures such as the Bt400-per-rai land-ploughing allowance at up to five rai per farmer, which would be presented by FRRC to the Cabinet meeting, he added.
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) deputy governor Malinee Sukavejworakit yesterday presided over a "Big Cleaning Day" event at Democracy Monument on Rajadamnoen Avenue on the occasion of Constitution Day.
Currently, the BMA is collecting about 13,400 tonnes of post-flood garbage per day, compared to the usual 8,500 tonnes. A large amount of garbage was damaged furniture, hence officials had arranged 100 trucks to remove the furniture. BMA deputy governor Pornthep Techapaiboon said that officials had so far collected 30,000 tonnes of garbage. There were 700,000 tonnes left in 10 flood-hit districts of Bangkok and garbage collection would return to normal by the end of December.
Meanwhile, the president of the Tourism Council of Thailand, Kongkrit Hirankit, said the recent flood disaster led to an 18-per-cent plunge in tourist numbers during November as some 30 countries had warned their citizens about the flood situation. It was expected that at the end of this year, the tourist numbers would be down by at least 900,000 persons, an estimated loss of Bt35 billion for Thailand's tourism industry. He urged the government to implement remedial measures for tourist business operators and restore their confidence. He said tourism should recover after the Chinese New Year in February.