Bangkok is likely to be spared from widespread flooding this year, Water and Flood Management Committee (WFMC) chairman Plodprasop Suraswadi said yesterday.
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A boy dives into floodwater in front of Wat Rassadorn Satthatham in tambon Pak Kwai in Muang district of Sukhothai. Flooding has forced several schools to close temporarily. TAWATCHAIKHEMGUMNERD
He said the rain volume is far less than last year and the capital's drainage system is proving effective.
Mr Plodprasop, who is also the Science and Technology Minister, played down fears of a repeat of last year's flooding, saying this year's rain volume remains 20% lower than the 2011 figure.
The current run-off in the North and Central Plains areas is also less than that of last year, he added. "Bangkok will not be flooded this year as it has good capacity to drain water out to the canals," the minister said.
He conceded that Bangkok's low elevation does make it vulnerable to brief floods after heavy rainfall, but he said these would usually last only an hour or two before draining out.
Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra yesterday conceded the heavy rain seen in the capital since Friday had placed a huge burden on the drainage system. It took up to three hours to drain the water out of some main roads, and even longer in some smaller roads, he said.
Anond Snidvongs, executive director of the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency and a WFMC member, said an estimated 900,000 rai of land will be flooded in the North and Central Plains regions this year, compared with 35 million rai last year.
He said there are no signs that the country will be hit with flooding of a similar magnitude as last year.
Meanwhile, authorities are still confident they can cope with floods in Sukhothai municipality, which was hit by a second deluge on Sunday.
Mr Plodprasop said the water level in Sukhothai has stabilised and is showing signs of decreasing.
Royal Irrigation Department Director-General Lertviroj Kowatthana said the Yom River's overflows will be pumped out, and the situation should return to normal within two or three days.
Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit said the rehabilitation process must be sped up to help flood-affected people. A single command operation introduced by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra would come up with a restoration plan for the area, he said.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said the deluge, caused by breaches in a floodwall in Sukhothai municipality, is under control. More sandbags will be built up at the wall, he said, adding that additional pumps have been put to use to drain water out of the city.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said the army has prepared more than 100 military companies to deal with the flooding nationwide.
Gen Prayuth added that water management projects, such as the construction of water-retention areas, dykes and dams, and canal dredging would be needed as long-term measures.
He refused to say if he supported the controversial Kaeng Sua Ten dam, planned for the Yom River in Phrae province, but said: "If people oppose everything, how are we going to deal with the problem?"
In Phitsanulok, overflow from the Yom River has flooded Phrom Phiram, Muang and Bang Rakam districts.
More than 100 households in tambon Thachang of Phrom Phiram have been inundated, and more than 5,000 rai of paddy fields were covered by floodwaters up to 1m deep.
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