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  1. #1
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    Thailand: Smith warns of dam peril, fears grow of another massive flood disaster

    Bangkok Post : Smith warns of dam peril

    Smith warns of dam peril

    Fears grow of another massive flood disaster

    Experts fear that the high water levels in some of the country's major dams could lead to disaster.



    Disaster prevention and water management experts are worried that the delay in discharging water from the dams could lead to a repeat of last year's catastrophic floods.

    "This is definitely a worrying sign," National Disaster Warning Council chairman Smith Dharmasaroja told the Bangkok Post in a phone interview yesterday. "Agencies in charge of dam operations must urgently release water from the dams to make sure there is enough room to receive new inflows during the approaching rainy season."

    Mr Smith, a former Meteorological Department chief and a member of the government-appointed Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM), said Thailand is expected to experience high rainfall this year due to the La Nina weather phenomenon.

    "We have to be prepared. Water storage levels in the major dams should be lowered to about 40% of their storage capacity," he said.

    The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) reported yesterday the Bhumibol Dam is holding up to 12.3 billion cubic metres, or about 91% of its storage capacity, while the Sirikit Dam is 89% full. Water storage in most major dams in the North, Central and Northeast also exceeds 70% of their capacity.

    Some experts blamed mismanagement of water storage in major dams for last year's epic floods. They said dam operators should have released the water before the rainy season arrived to have more retention capacity.

    Mr Smith said the government should urgently devise short-term flood prevention plans to prevent a repeat of the 2011 floods.

    The SCWRM had also failed to draw up any workable measures as they spent most of the time debating.

    Science and Technology Ministry Plodprasop Suraswadi was also upset with the sluggish water discharge from the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams.

    Water levels in the two dams remained too high although the rainy season is only months away, Mr Plodprasop said on Monday. "I am going to inspect the dams shortly to see for myself why they are holding so much water," he said.

    The Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute's director Royol Chitradon agreed water levels in the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams were too high, but said discharging more water from them could affect residential and agricultural land downstream, especially areas in the Central provinces where floodwaters remain.

    Mr Royol said water should be drained out of flooded areas quickly so the dams could discharge more water.

    Boonsanong Suchatpong, the RID's spokesman, however, assured that his agency and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the dam's operator, had carefully managed water storage in the major dams, based on lessons learned from last year's flooding.

    The Bhumibol and Sirikit dams, in Tak and Uttaradit provinces respectively, were releasing between 40-55 million cu/m each day to feed off-season rice crops, he said, adding the storage levels in the dams would reach about 40% of their capacity at the end of the dry season in April.

    Water storage levels in the major dams were much higher than in the same period last year simply because of the unprecedented volume of rainfall, which caused a vast amount of water to flow into the dams. "We are discharging the water out of the dams _ both for farming purposes and to create space for new inflows," he said.

    Bhumibol Dam director Narong Thaiprayoon said the dam had discharged water in line with a plan by a joint committee on water management, chaired by the Agriculture Extension Department chief.
    "Slavery is the daughter of darkness; an ignorant people is the blind instrument of its own destruction; ambition and intrigue take advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men who have no political, economic or civil knowledge. They mistake pure illusion for reality, license for freedom, treason for patriotism, vengeance for justice."-Simón Bolívar

  2. #2
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    I have been told unofficially that the event of flooding will continue annually, maybe not as bad as last year but severe enough to cause major hardship for those affected.

    Something needs to be done not only upstream but also downstream which they will feel will take at least a decade and a fortune to complete.

  3. #3
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    I wonder how much of this problem is due to silting?

    All the rivers flow the colour of milky coffee. It is obvious it is carrying a lot of silt.

    Talk to any old timers and they will tell you it never used to be like that and the water used to run clear. That is easy to understand.

    The fact that when you go into the hills and see the deforestation and the soil erosion caused by people clearing everything from the hill sides to grow crops it is easy to understand why the rivers run brown.

    In my old village it was a problem that they overcame by running excavators along the empty flood canals in the dry season to clear massive amounts of silt. Not so easy to do in the main rivers.....

    I hope those people slashing and burning the hillsides of every living thing are happy to have a crop to sell.
    Fahn Cahn's

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    ^I believe silting a major issue for quite a few mega dams around the world. Certainly deforestation will have done nothing to help with this for flooding. reforestation would be excellent move and something they might consider, once someone has worked out how to produce biofuel from wood, there will be a large economic reason to copse the marginal hill lands with fast growing tree varieties and a lot less pressure to grow bio fuels on arable land.

    As for the heights of the dam waters, after the 1996 flooding, it also looked like they had issues getting the water out of the dams in time for the 1997 wet/mosoon season, which lead to the dams becoming very full dispite the season being quite a mild one. I guess the problem they have is that they have 24% of thailand annual rain fall trapped in the dams and to release it they have to send it through central thailand though the CP river. There's a limit to how much they can send without causing flooding..... which they would be entirely responsible for and would be a serious political issue.

    My guess will is that they will drain the water from the dams as fast as they can without causing flooding and pray that next wet season is a mild one. Its politically the best decision to make, even if it were to cause more serious flooding later. It would be hard to explain to people now that they are going to be flooded again, to potentially save them from more serious flooding next year, the people are unlikely to accept this. So its best to do what you can with the dam levels and if the wet season is bad next year.... blame the flooding entirely on the rain, as they did this year.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bung
    Talk to any old timers and they will tell you it never used to be like that and the water used to run clear
    this is new information to me.

  6. #6
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    OK, when I say clear I do not mean glacier run off but certainly not cafe au lait as you see now.

    My ex wife used to swim in the klongs in her village when she was a kid that ran clear of silt. 30 odd years ago.

    There's no doubt silting has become a problem in the last half a century here and it is not going to get better in a hurry.

  7. #7
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    i dont argue the silting problem.

    but i have lived near the chao pryaya for over ten years and i have never heard it described as darkening. you may be correct but i have simply never heard the point made. and i have asked.

  8. #8
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    agreed
    why did/does the area produce so much rice?

  9. #9
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    endless water means three crops a year vs one.

  10. #10
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    Bangkok Post : 'Amateurs' blamed for flood damage

    'Amateurs' blamed for flood damage

    Bangkok's deputy governor slammed the government on Tuesday for appointing inexperienced amateurs to manage last year's floods, causing damage far greater than there should have been.

    Theerachon Manomaipiboon condemned the government's decision to ignore the advice of experts.

    He said the amount of water in last year's flooding was less than in 1995, but the losses were far greater because of goverment mismanagement.

    He was referring to the government's Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) which was widely criticised for being made up of ''greenhorns'' in water management in the early period of the flood crisis.

    Khlongs 1-13 were originally designed upon engineering principles used for over a hundred year to drain water from the North into Bang Pakong river in Chachoengsao province. But the Froc ordered Khlong rapeepat, Khlong Rangsit Prayoonsak and Khlong Hok Wa to be closed which prevented water from flowing into the City Hall's downstream floodway, Mr Theerachon said.

    He said Bangkok and its outer areas, including Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district, should not have been flooded.

    But they were hit hard by the inundation because some politicians ordered Irrigation Department officials not to open sluice gates in certain provinces so that farmers could finish harvesting their paddy.

    They thought that by doing so they would help to protect rice crops worth 3 billion baht. Instead it turned out that seven major industrail estates were ravaged by the flooding, incurring a loss of up to one trillion baht, which was not worth it, Mr Theerachon said.

    The rice fields should have served as water catchment areas in order to protect the industrial estates.

    The farmers who would have sacrificed their farmlands should have been given food and shelter and adequate compensation to ensure they could recover and continue farming.

    Mr Theerachon insisted City Hall worked to its utmost capacity to open sluice gates and water pumps to protect the capital.

    He said the public should check City Hall's electricity bills during the flood period and they would know which government agencies lied to them.

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    Bangkok Post : Water management plan completed

    Water management plan completed


    The draft master plan to set up the country’s water management system to prevent recurrence of floods has been completed, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said on Thursday.

    He said this at a seminar on flood prevention held today by the Asian Development Bank and the National Economic and Social Development Board.

    Mr Kittiratt said the master plan drafting panel is now working in details on the needed budget in order to move forward to an action mode.

    The minister expected the construction of floodwalls around various industrial estates can be started sometime in February. The repairs of sluice gates and water pumping stations will be immediately started once the required 12.6 billion baht budget is in pipeline.

    An urgent task of the government for the moment is to rapidly set up a 50 billion baht state flood insurance fund, in which the private sector is now interested in. This fund is needed that to show the business sector that the government has a confidence that the great flood will not take place again, he said.

    The setting up of such flood insurance fund can restore confidence among Thai and foreign investors, he added.

  12. #12
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    Thailand in hurry to put flood defences in place - Yahoo!7

    Thailand in hurry to put flood defences in place

    Ploy Ten Kate, Reuters
    January 19, 2012, 5:15 pm


    Reuters © Enlarge photo

    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand is racing to implement water management schemes costing 300 billion baht (6.0 billion pounds) to prevent a repeat of last year's flood disaster, but companies want to see even more haste while some experts say things shouldn't be rushed.

    Thailand's worst flooding in at least five decades forced the closure of seven industrial estates in central provinces from October last year, causing billions of dollars of damage and putting about 650,000 people temporarily out of work.

    Many factories have still not reopened but industrialists are already worrying about the next rainy season, barely four months away, and want the government to start acting on specific, concrete plans rather than outline broad ideas.

    "We still have faith in the government and what they're trying to achieve," said Setsuo Iuchi, president of JETRO Thailand, the local arm of Japan External Trade Organisation.

    "I rather believe that people want to be here and keep on investing but, yes, we can't deny that more clear-cut actions by the government have to be made."

    Companies like Hana Microelectronics Pcl and Aapico Hitech Pcl, whose plants were inundated, have called on the government to come up with both short-term remedies and long-term solutions to prevent future floods.

    Only one or two companies, such as U.S.-based chip maker ON Semiconductor Corp, have said they are closing facilities completely after suffering from the floods.

    Some big names have announced sizable investments to either restore old plants or build new ones.

    This week alone, Toyota Motor Corp said it would spend 8.2 billion baht to build a new plant and restart one closed in 2010, and fellow Japanese firm Minebea Co Ltd, a bearing maker, said it would invest $75 million to build a new plant.

    PLAN TAKES SHAPE

    Deputy Prime Minister and incoming Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong outlined water management plans last weekend involving seven projects, including flood prevention measures along the Chao Phraya river that flows from the north and through Bangkok.

    It involves reforestation, the construction of dams and reservoirs and city planning. "We have to move quickly. This cannot wait," he said.

    One of the seven projects is a 10 billion baht plan to plant trees and build dikes along upstream tributaries of the Chao Phraya. Another, costing 50 billion baht, involves the construction of reservoirs in the river basins where the floods developed.

    Other projects include the building of floodways in 2 million rai (800,000 acres) of farmland plus irrigation systems, the cleaning-up of canals and waterways and establishing a data system for water management.

    Some 120 billion baht is earmarked for the construction of floodways and flood diversion channels, with work this year involving the improvement of dikes, sluice gates and canals.

    "I'm not that confident these projects would work," said Chaiyuth Sukhsri, head of the Water Resources Engineering Department at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.

    "The time period for formulating this plan is very, very short. It usually takes a lot of time to analyse these things," he said, adding that the social impact of the plans seemed to have been ignored completely.

    Even so, Chaiyuth noted that rains could be heavy this year because of the La Nina effect.

    Some analysts say erratic climate patterns are complicating things for policymakers.

    For example, it is becoming more difficult for dam managers to make judgments based on previous weather patterns. Water discharged too late and in huge volume from northern dams was, for some analysts, a big factor behind the disaster last year.

    DIKES AROUND ESTATES

    Last week the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), under the Ministry of Industry, outlined a plan to build permanent dikes up to 6.5 metres (21 feet) high around the seven industrial estates forced to shut by floods last year.

    "We now have a plan for building a permanent dike designed by the Engineering Institute of Thailand using statistics of flooding events in the past 100 years," Vithoon Simachokdee, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Industry said.

    Each estate will adapt the proposed dike to its own circumstances and can apply for loans from the Government Savings Bank, which has a credit line of 15 billion baht offering loans at 0.01 percent over seven years.
    The aim is for the work to be completed in August, Vithoon said.

    Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Corporation's Thai unit, said the Bangkadi industrial estate, of which she is also chairwoman, would have a dike up to 6 metres high in place in September. Last year it was inundated with up to 4.3 metres of floodwater.

    "Flood-affected companies and industrial estates are doing what they can to defend themselves better, but of course we can't do it entirely without the government's help," Kobkarn said.

    "If the factories and industrial estates are safe from floods but our staff's homes are submerged, they won't be able to come to work anyway. We need the government to support us," she said.

    Toshiba had to halt operations at nine of its 10 production plants at Bangkadi and one in Nava Nakorn Pcl estate in Pathum Thani province in the north of Bangkok. It may take a year for some to be up and running again.

  13. #13
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    Factbox: Thailand's flood management plans and funding | Reuters

    Factbox: Thailand's flood management plans and funding

    BANGKOK | Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:06am EST

    (Reuters) - Thailand's government has drawn up a 300 billion baht ($9.4 billion) plan for water management and flood prevention schemes along the Chao Phraya river basin to prevent a repeat of devastating floods last year.

    Outgoing Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala has said another 50 billion baht could be spent on 17 related river basins and other infrastructure.

    Here are key points:

    PROJECTS

    * The Chao Phraya river basin will be divided into two areas. The first area of 35,000 sq km is most vulnerable to floods. It is home to 18 million people, with 80 percent agricultural land and the rest for residential, commercial and industrial use, a statement from the Deputy Prime Minister's office showed.

    The second area of 123,000 sq km is outside the flood zone. It is home to 7 million people, living mostly in forest and agricultural areas and less likely to be badly flooded.

    * A 10 billion baht plan for forest restoration and conservation plus the construction of dikes along upstream areas of the Ping, Nan, Wang, Yom and Sakae Krang river basins. The Ping and Nan are main tributaries of the Chao Phraya, which flows from north to south through Bangkok.

    * 50 billion baht to build reservoirs along the Yom, Nan, Sakae Krang and Pa Sak river basins.

    * 60 billion baht to convert 2 million rai (800,000 acres) of Chao Phraya plains farmland for the retention of 6-10 billion cubic metres of floodwater.

    * 120 billion baht for the construction of floodways and flood diversion channels allowing flows of at least 1,500 million cubic metres per second. Immediate work this year would include the enhancement of dikes, sluice gates and canals.

    * 50 billion baht for city and land use planning.

    * 7 billion baht for "the enhancement of rivers and dikes."

    * 3 billion baht for database and warning systems and the establishment of related organizations.

    FUNDING

    * On January 10, the cabinet approved a decree that authorizes the government to seek funding of 350 billion baht ($11 billion) for projects that involve rebuilding and flood prevention work.

    As a comparison, the government's budget deficit for the fiscal year to September 2012 was originally supposed to be 350 billion baht. The cabinet approved an increase to 400 billion in mid-October to allow it to spend more on reconstruction.

    * Deputy Prime Minister and incoming Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong said at the weekend that some of the funding would come from overseas sources, with technical assistance, implying it would be a multilateral lender such as the World Bank.

    However, he said most of the funding would come from local sources. He did not specify whether this would be from bond sales, bank loans or other sources.

    He said 17 billion baht of the spending would be accounted for in the 2011/12 fiscal budget.

    * He has said the borrowing would raise the ratio of public debt to GDP by just 2-3 percentage points. Debt is expected to rise to 43.5 percent of GDP this fiscal year from 41.03 percent in October. By law it can go as high as 60 percent.

    * The cabinet also agreed to support the establishment of a flood-related insurance fund. The Finance Ministry would seek funding of 50 billion baht for this.

    * In addition, the Bank of Thailand is empowered to provide 300 billion baht ($9.45 billion) in soft loans to help manufacturers and individuals hurt by the floods. The Bank of Thailand could ask commercial banks to provide 30 percent of the total, Kittirat said.

    * To help with the funding, the government has, by decree, shifted responsibility for servicing 1.14 trillion baht ($35.9 billion) in debt owed by the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) to the central bank.

    The FIDF is a special vehicle used to bail out banks during the Asian crisis. Its interest costs amount to more than 60 billion baht a year, paid until now from the fiscal budget.

    The principal was already the responsibility of the central bank. It was supposed to pay this down from its profits, but in most recent years the central bank has made a loss.

    The Bank of Thailand had opposed the transfer of responsibility.

    Outgoing Finance Minister Thirachai has said the ministry would keep issuing bonds to roll over matured FIDF debt until the central bank came up with a plan to pay it off. About 340 billion baht of FIDF bonds will mature this year, he added.

    Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul has said the commitment to continue issuing government bonds to cover the FIDF debt ensured the central bank would not have to print money to cover it, which could have fuelled inflation.

  14. #14
    euston has flown

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    Quote Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
    * 120 billion baht for the construction of floodways and flood diversion channels allowing flows of at least 1,500 million cubic metres per second. Immediate work this year would include the enhancement of dikes, sluice gates and canals.
    Do you think they have a special school of journalism where they surgically extract common sense, any concept of scale or mathematics?

    1,500 million cubic metres per second is a stupidly big number.

    So they plan to build a channel that could drain the entire Bhumibol Dam in 8.97 seconds. a 5m deep, 20m/s channel would have to be 15,000km wide to achieve this.

  15. #15
    The Pikey Hunter
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz
    Do you think they have a special school of journalism where they surgically extract common sense, any concept of scale or mathematics?
    No need for that.

    Back in the 90's, me and a few mates used to have a weekly competition to see who could get the stupidest story printed in BP or The Nation. All that was necessary was to fax some made up press release to either of them (best to choose the Business desk as they were always looking for copy to fill space) and you could almost guarantee that it would appear in the next days paper, as they never bothered to check their sources

    There was a special bonus for getting the 'double', i.e. sending your story to the post and having it appear in that one day and then in The Nation the next day - without sending it to the Nation yourself (The Nation's slogan could have been "Yesterday's News, Today" in those days ).
    You, sir, are a God among men....
    Short Men, who aren't terribly bright....
    More like dwarves with learning disabilities....
    You are a God among Dwarves With Learning Disabilities.

  16. #16
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    where numbers come in to a conversation my wife allways makes them moor than is posible , this is true of most of the Thai around me , big is better.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz
    So they plan to build a channel that could drain the entire Bhumibol Dam in 8.97 seconds. a 5m deep, 20m/s channel would have to be 15,000km wide to achieve this.
    Yes I heard this is true, the guy who said water from melted ice-caps would not affect Thailand as it was "too far away" is going to implement this plan

  18. #18
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    Do you think they have a special school of journalism where they surgically extract common sense, any concept of scale or mathematics?
    It's called churnalism.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerbil
    Back in the 90's, me and a few mates used to have a weekly competition to see who could get the stupidest story printed in BP or The Nation.
    are you sure your not still doing it?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerbil
    Back in the 90's, me and a few mates used to have a weekly competition to see who could get the stupidest story printed in BP or The Nation.
    are you sure your not still doing it?
    Well, I gave it up. They might still be at it.

  21. #21
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    What Thailand needs to do but what they won't do is seek external help from flood effected regions of the world. It is obviously becoming quite a looming problem BK and the surround provinces are facing. Why don't they invest some of that 150bil of foreign reserves and get it sorted out before more damage is done.
    Collector of bones in Bangkok, 15th century Mongolian porcelain, unicorns & show ponies - hunter of rats

  22. #22
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    ^^maybe, or perhase BP simply employ calgary's alter ego to do their copywriting; would explain rather a lot

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    Dam levels to be kept low to reduce flood threat - The Nation

    Dam levels to be kept low to reduce flood threat

    TEACHAWAT SUKRAK
    THE NATION January 21, 2012 1:00 am


    Strategic water management panel unveils short-term measures; run-off areas to be identified

    Flood prevention will be made a priority in the management of the country's dams, all of which will be required to keep their water levels at no more than half of capacity, the Strategic Committee for Water Resources Management (SCWRM) announced yesterday.

    "Water for agricultural purposes will be next in order of importance," SCWRM member Pitipong Puengboon na Ayutthaya said at a news conference attended by all key members of this national-level committee.

    The SCWRM was set up after the flood crisis wreaked havoc across dozens of provinces, including Bangkok, late last year. Hundreds of people died of flood-related causes and the country's manufacturing sector was partially crippled when seven industrial estates were flooded.

    After the crisis hit, many people blamed poor handling of the water in dams for worsening the flood problems.

    The severity of the 2011 floods has highlighted the need for authorities to develop a good plan and prevent such a crisis from recurring.

    Pitipong yesterday unveiled the key provisions of the short-term plan developed by the SCWRM.

    "We will focus on how to efficiently manage water in dams, water in floodplains, and water from heavy downpours," he said. The Royal Irrigation Department, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and the Meteorological Department will hold daily meetings to discuss the water situation and to develop efficient drainage plans.

    Pitipong said the Royal Irrigation Department and the Agriculture Ministry would also be asked to identify areas that would have to take in run-off if water levels became too large.

    "We are going to provide compensation for people affected by the decision to push water into the designated flood areas," he said. "And we will try to ensure that flood-water levels in their areas won't be more than 1 metre deep."

    Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who chairs the SCWRM, said her government would provide Bt60 billion to implement the flood-area plan and for related remedial actions for affected people. However, she did not specify how the compensation would be paid or for how many years this budget was expected to last.

    She said only that for the purpose of reducing damages from flooding this year, her government had already approved Bt18.11 billion.

    "The Cabinet has already approved the water-management master plan. It entails two implementation plans, one for urgent measures and the other for long-term measures," Yingluck said.

    Pitipong said engineering work for the short-term plan would cost about Bt17 billion. He said this included systems for total flood prevention in key economic and residential areas, the prevention of overflows, the upgrading of sluice gates, and improved drainage capacity in Bangkok.

    "We also plan to tackle sandbars at the mouth of the Chao Phraya and Tha Chin rivers under a Bt277-million budget to facilitate rapid water flow," he said.

    He mentioned many other flood-prevention projects, which he said would be subject to review by relevant authorities.

    "After the SCWRM and the National Economic and Social Development Board approve them, they will be forwarded to relevant authorities for review," he said. The agencies would try to complete key work by April, Pitipong said.

    Yingluck said that in the long run, about Bt177 billion would be spent on developing an efficient water-infrastructure network for the country.

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    Thailand unveils flood-prevention plan - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

    Thailand unveils flood-prevention plan


    PM announces $9.4bn series of water-management schemes to prevent repeat of last year's devastating flood disaster.

    Last Modified: 20 Jan 2012 08:19

    With rainy season only four months away, business leaders fear Thai government is not preparing soon enough [AFP]

    The Thai government has drawn up a 300bn baht ($9.4bn) plan for water-management and flood-prevention schemes along the Chao Phraya river basin to prevent a repeat of devastating floods last year.

    The plan, announced on Friday by Yingluck Shinawatra, the Thai prime minister, includes reforestation, dam construction, and city planning.

    The details of the plan have been criticised by business leaders who say the proposed five-month timeline should be accelerated, but experts warn against hasty reaction.

    Of particular concern to those calling for an accelerated timetable, is the impending rainy season, only four months away.

    Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from the Thai capital Bangkok, said there is "still too much water left over in resevoirs ... authorities are being urged to release more water from reservoirs" before the start of the rainy season in May.

    'Cannot wait'

    Kittirat Na Ranong, the deputy prime minister and incoming finance minister, said last weekend "we have to move quickly. This cannot wait".

    The rainy season this year is expected to be particularly heavy due to the La Nina effect.

    At an announcement last weekend, Ranong presented a series of seven water-management projects.

    The projects included planting trees and building dams along upstream tributaries of the Chao Praya river, construction of reservoirs in the river basins where the floods developed, building of floodways in 800,000 acres of farmland plus irrigation systems, and the cleaning-up of canals and waterways and establishing a data system for water management.

    "I'm not that confident these projects would work," said Chaiyuth Sukhsri, head of the Water Resources Engineering Department at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University in response to the plans laid out by the government.

    "The time period for formulating this plan is very, very short. It usually takes a lot of time to analyse these things," he said, adding that the social impact of the plans seemed to have been ignored completely.

    Business leaders, however, are calling for faster implementation of preventative measures.

    Factory closures

    Last year's flooding, the worst in five decades, resulted in the closure of seven industrial estates in central provinces. The closures, beginning last October, led to billions of dollars in damages and put 650,000 people temporarily out of work.

    With many factories yet to reopen, Thai industrialists are calling for specifics rather than the broad plans outlined by the Shinawatra government.

    Companies like Hana Microelectronics Pcl and Aapico Hitech Pcl, whose plants were inundated, have called on the government to come up with both short-term remedies and long-term solutions to prevent future floods.

    "I rather believe that people want to be here and keep on investing but, yes, we can't deny that more clear-cut actions by the government have to be made", said Setsuo Iuchi, president of JETRO Thailand, the local arm of Japan External Trade Organisation.


    Estimates have put the insured losses from last year's flooding at more than $15bn [AFP]


    "Flood-affected companies and industrial estates are doing what they can to defend themselves better, but of course we can't do it entirely without the government's help," Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Corporation's Thai unit, said.

    "If the factories and industrial estates are safe from floods but our staff's homes are submerged, they won't be able to come to work anyway. We need the government to support us," she said.

    The Thai government faced criticism for their response to last year's floods, that some said focused too much on the central business districts of Bangkok, while the outskirts remained submerged under water.

    US-based chip maker, ON Semiconductor Corp, is among the only companies who have said flood losses will lead them to completely shutter their facilities.

    Some prominent names have announced sizable investments to either restore old plants or build new ones.

    This week alone, Toyota Motor Corp said it would spend 8.2 billion baht to build a new plant and restart one closed in 2010, and fellow Japanese firm Minebea Co Ltd, a bearing maker, said it would invest $75m to build a new plant.

    Estimates have put the insured losses from last year's flooding, that left 650,000 people temporarily unemployed, at more than $15bn.

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    Bangkok Post : Water levels in dams 'scary'

    Water levels in dams 'scary'

    Discharges needed to avert floods, says expert


    Water should be released from major dams in the North to prepare for new inflows, a Chulalongkorn University's expert said.

    The amount of water held in many dams, especially Bhumibol and Sirikit dams in Tak and Uttaradit provinces, is much higher compared to this time last year.

    "Officials should start releasing water in the dams right away as we have only a few months left before the rainy season arrives in May," Sombat Yumuang, director of Geo-Informatics Centre for Thailand (GISThai), Chulalongkorn University, said.

    Mr Sombat made the call at a two-day International Knowledge Sharing Forum on Flood Management, held recently by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Strategic Committee on Water Resource Management, and the Asian Development Bank.

    Last year's floods in the North and the Central Plains were caused by unusually high rainfall brought by several storms and typhoons, he said.

    On Friday, the Bhumibol Dam held a record 11.8 billion cubic metres of water or around 87% of its storage capacity of 13.5 billion cu/m.

    On the same day last year, the dam held only about 7.8 billion cu/m of water in its reservoir.

    On Friday, the Sirikit Dam, which has a capacity of 9.5 billion cu/m, was holding 8.2 billion cu/m of water or 86% of its capacity.

    The water volume at the same time last year was 6.9 billion cu/m.

    "The figure is very scary. We have to take water management seriously since we cannot control rainfall," he said.

    Mr Sombat said he supported a suggestion from a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expert that water from the dam be released at twice the volume of last year to ensure the floods are not repeated.

    Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board, said a monitoring process is needed to ensure the government's flood prevention master plan is implemented transparently.

    Mr Arkhom said 25 organisations involved in water-related work are implementing the plan, drawn up since last year's floods. A committee should be established to coordinate their work, he said. He said the government should also produce a map showing the location of each project under the plan.

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