October 20, 2011 00:00 By The Nation 30,120 Viewed
A close aide to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday suggested that the government immediately revise its flood-prevention plan to protect the inner city areas from severe flooding.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, in her capacity as an adviser to the government’s Flood Relief Operation Centre
(FROC), said her plan calls for releasing floodwater from upstream provinces into Nakhon Nayok and Chachoengsao to the east of Bangkok, and allowing some areas of the city to be flooded.
“Bangkok has to accept part of the water in order to help reduce the burden,” Sudarat said. She added that FROC chief Pracha Promnok has agreed to her idea and that she would later raise the matter with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
She warned that the government’s current plan of blocking the floodwater in upstream provinces would only help increase the water pressure. Any leak in the temporary flood walls could lead to severe flooding in Bangkok’s central areas, including the Victory Monument, she said.
“The situation is critical and I think this is time for me to help,” Sudarat said.
She denied that she was acting on someone’s command. “I have not got been ordered by anyone, although I get advice from many sources. We now need to brainstorm to release the 10,000-plus million cubic metres of water into the sea as soon as possible. We can’t allow the water to mass up and attack Bangkok,” the banned politician said.
Sudarat is one of the 111 former executives of the disbanded Thai Rak Thai Party who have been banned from politics for five years after the party was dissolved by court order for electoral fraud.
Meanwhile, Kohlak Charoenruk, deputy chairman of the National Disaster Warning Committee, yesterday called on the prime minister to decide whether to allow floodwaters from upstream provinces to naturally pass Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River and canals into the sea.
He said that the government’s attempt to keep the massive floodwater in provinces north of Bangkok would only help increase the water pressure.
“It’s the nature of water to flow downstream into the sea. When you block a lot of water, it will mass up to become a tsunami and could finally hit Bangkok,” he said. He added that Bangkok is on a natural channel for the water from upstream to flow into the sea.
Yingluck yesterday appeared awkward in defending the Flood Relief Operations Centre from a crisis of confidence.
“I concede that many don’t believe in FROC,” she said.
FROC’s work would be fine-tuned and its dissemination of flood warnings improved in order to avoid confusion and panic, she said.
However, the government was not trying to withhold certain facts about the flood, she said.
Science Minister Plodprasob Surassawade has predicted that Don Muang would be submerged in one metre of water, but she said she would rather wait for an expert’s opinion than speculate on the matter.
The government was doing its best to tackle the flood, so people should not get petrified by drawing a hasty conclusion on the inevitability of inundation, she said, urging for calm.
After reasoning with residents, authorities could now open key sluice gates on six Rangsit canals to divert water from the northern to eastern parts of the city before shunting the water out to sea via the Bang Pakong River.
The move would slow down the approaching deluge and minimise the flooding, if any, in Sai Mai and Don Muang districts.
FROC would not be relocated from Don Mueang Airport at this juncture.
FROC’s flood announcements were not unreliable. Officials from various agencies were working there, so each one might assess the situation and make comments from a narrow perspective without forming an overall picture.
She said she would try to ensure that FROC issued comprehensive updates instead of making pot-shot comments.
She pleaded for cooperation from all sides to overcome the disaster, as she alone could not rescue the city.
“It’s time to stop playing political games,” she said.
The problem was especially difficult to solve this year due to one unknown variable – the amount of rainfall.
She could not estimate the amount of water that might flood Bangkok because the country might still be hit by more storms.
Reporters should not pester her with questions that were beyond her, as only specialists should comment on water and weather forecasts.
International assistance continued with Liu Ning, the Chinese vice minister for water resources, visiting Thailand from Monday to yesterday to advise FROC on flood control.
China has dispatched a team of hydrologists to assist in drainage efforts.
In a related development, Prime Minister Yingluck yesterday dismissed a rumour that she watched a concert on Tuesday night while much of the country was facing severe floods.
“I didn’t go to any concert. Now my daily life involves travelling from home to the FROC at Don Mueang Airport and my office at Government House. I have attended no entertainment function and I do not dine out now,” she said.