Massive flooding still on the cards

AS the rainy season gets underway it is worth remembering that little has been done to prevent a repeat of the unforgettable 2011 floods in the country’s central region, Kittisak Aguru, principal architect at Nautilus Design and Consultant Company said last week.

While many people are worried about global warming and rising sea levels which put thousands of coastal cities at risk among them Bangkok, this well-known architect is more concerned about the near future likelihood of provinces surrounding the capital such as Suphan Buri, Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya being repeatedly flooded.

“I don’t have deep knowledge of this issue but do think floods can reoccur if the authorities badly manage water.”

Looking back decades, Mr Kittisak mentioned that things actually started to go wrong with the construction of the roads which led to canal water being diverted. More diversion occurred in some provinces where certain areas with good connections to the local bigwigs got more water for their paddy fields than the others.

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A badly inundated area of Lopburi’s Ban Mee District during the great floods of 2011. Photo: European Commission DG

 “So all the raft houses that used to exist just 10 years ago have now disappeared … the problem is that these canals don’t have water anymore. So all the raft houses have now become permanent homes.

“These raft houses used to float on water and actually the owners are in the same place but there is no water except during rainy season.

“While these houses are built on stilts, they cannot float up and down with the water level as their raft houses did and could get flooded depending on how much water flows down.”

This architect blames severe flooding on planning problems and has not seen any major plan to prevent as disastrous flooding as occurred in 2011 making progress in these provinces.

Wikipedia quoted the World Bank as estimating that as of December 1, 2011 economic damage and losses due to flooding totaled 1,425 billion baht (US$45.7 billion) with most of it occurring in the manufacturing industry because seven major industrial estates were as much as three meters under water.

Despite the Kaem Ling (Monkey’s Cheek) project which was initiated by His Majesty the King to solve flood problems in Bangkok and its vicinity by allocating large pieces of land to store water and excavating existing canals, Mr Kittisak pointed out that instead of increasing these water retention ponds some housing estates have actually been built on existing ones.
“The house itself is actually strong enough to withstand floods, I think the structure is not a problem nor the foundation but who wants to live in the floods – that is more of an issue.”

By Nina Suebsukcharoen

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