Monday, November 21, 2011

Hundreds demand sluice gates to be opened

Flood-hit residents in Bangkok's Don Muang and Nonthaburi rallied yesterday, demanding the government speed up the drainage of floodwater from their communities.
Still soaked Flood levels remain high in many communities in Don Muang district after several weeks of flooding, prompting residents to demand better flood drainage. Flood victims yesterday threatened a protest if the waters do not recede significantly in three days. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Over 200 people from Sai Noi, Bang Kruai and Bang Bua Thong districts of Nonthaburi partially blocked the inbound section of Rattanathibet Road in front of the provincial hall.
They demanded the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) open all sluice gates of Khlong Maha Sawat, Khlong Thawi Watthana, Khlong Phasicharoen, Khlong Bang-or and Khlong Bang Bamru to allow floodwater from the districts to flow downstream.
The canals connect Nonthaburi with Bangkok's western districts, such as Thawi Watthana, Taling Chan, and Bang Kae.
The residents threatened to destroy the dykes that are blocking floodwater from flowing out of their areas if their demands were not met.
They also demanded the repair of dykes in Bang Bua Thong district to block the inflow of floodwater and the installation of pumps to discharge floodwater from the districts of Nonthaburi.
Special compensation should be given to residents in the three districts, where floods have remained so central Bangkok could be spared, they said.
The residents pointed out that while they were still waiting for progress in flood drainage, adjacent Bang Phlat district of Bangkok is dry and has been cleaned up.
The residents ended the protest after reading out their petitions and said they would listen to responses from agencies tomorrow.
Nonthaburi MP Chalong Riawraeng said the BMA had closed sluice gates in Khlong Maha Sawat after opening them briefly to meet the request of the Nonthaburi people. He urged residents to exert pressure.
Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, however, said yesterday morning the sluice gates of Khlong Maha Sawat canal were opened 50cm wide, as agreed with Nonthaburi residents.
The Irrigation Department will start pumps to accelerate drainage through Khlong Maha Sawat and Khlong Bangkok Noi canals as well as the Chao Phraya River.
The Thawi Watthana sluice gate would be opened wider to speed up drainage through Khlong Phasicharoen canal and the Tha Chin River.
However, he said he was not willing to lower a 6km-long section of a dyke that protects western Bangkok, as lowering it would significantly increase the inflows of floodwater into western parts of the capital.
Meanwhile, about 200 people from Don Muang and Laksi districts of Bangkok and Muang Ake housing estate of Pathum Thani gathered yesterday to demand the opening of Khlong Bang Khen sluice gate at Wat Thewa Sunthorn in Bang Khen district to drain floodwater from the areas.
They demanded the government install at least 30 pumps to drain the water and look into the negative impact of the opening of the big bag barrier in Rangsit area which could add more water to Don Muang.
Protest leader Pongthep Sirisap said they would submit their demands to the government at the Flood Relief Operation Command today, while some residents threatened to close the Din Daeng-Don Muang tollway if their demands were not met.
MR Sukhumbhand inspected floods in Sai Mai district of Bangkok yesterday.
He also delivered relief bags to flood victims in adjacent Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani and thanked them for helping contain flooding in Bangkok.
MR Sukhumbhand said flooding in the capital would be relieved on main streets in a few weeks and the drainage on minor roads would take twice as long.
He insisted Bangkok would be dry by the end of the year.

BMA hit by deluge of protesters: About 200 Nonthaburi residents block the road in front of the provincial hall demanding the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration widen Khlong Maha Sawat's sluice gate to speed up water drainage from Nonthaburi. KITJA APICHONROJAREK