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Bangkok 'could be submerged in 15 years'

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Without urgent action, Bangkok could be under water within 15 years because of excessive pumping of groundwater, the weight of city buildings and rising sea levels, an NRC panel has warned.

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This riverside view taken during the great flood of 2011 could be the norm with two decades, an NRC committee has concluded. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

Report stirs alarm over sinking city

Aekarach Sattaburuth

Without urgent action, Bangkok could be under water within 15 years because of excessive pumping of groundwater, the weight of city buildings and rising sea levels, a panel set up by the National Reform Council (NRC) has warned.

The government should therefore set up a national committee to deal with Bangkok's subsidence to prevent the capital from being submerged, the committee says.

The issue was raised at an NRC meeting Wednesday by Withaya Kulsomboon, chairman of the NRC panel responsible for drafting a report to address Bangkok's subsidence crisis.

Bangkok and adjacent provinces were only 0.5 to 2 metres above mean sea level and sinking, Mr Witthaya said. The longstanding and excessive use of underground water in areas without tap water supplies and the heavy weight of tall buildings were accelerating the subsidence.

The weight of the Bangkok buildings, almost 5,000 of which are over eight storeys high, is one of several factors contributing to its alarming subsidence. CHAIKRIT SAETAN

"There are about 700 buildings with 20 floors or more and 4,000 buildings with 8-20 floors in Bangkok. There are also many electric railways. These could cause the submergence of parts of Bangkok and surrounding areas in the future," he said.

A panel chaired by the prime minister is needed to deal with the crisis of rising sea levels and subsidence, according to the chairman.

The situation is urgent, and the government may even have to consider relocating Bangkok, said Mr Withaya.

It should work on a long-term plan, and devise additional laws to protect Bangkok from going underwater, he said, adding that specific agencies should be assigned to implement the measures.

The government also needs to increase public awareness of the issue, he said.

According to panel member Sucharit Koontanakulvong, if nothing is done, Bangkok might be underwater in less than two decades.

The report found the city's subsidence is partly a result of groundwater pumping, which removed underground water faster than it could be replaced, compressing the soil.

The NRC voted 166-to-5, with four abstentions, to accept the report's findings.

The council asked the panel to review the report once more and then send it to the cabinet within seven days.

One idea is to build barriers from Si Racha district of Chon Buri to Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan to prevent the capital from being submerged and hold off coastal erosion, said Mr Sucharit, adding that the project would cost 500 billion baht.

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Vocabulary:

abstention (noun): an act of choosing not to use a vote either in favour of or against something - การงดออกเสียง

accelerate : to happen or make something happen at a faster rate - เร่ง, เร่งความเร็ว, เพิ่มความเร็ว

address : to deal with a problem - จัดการปัญหา

adjacent : very near, next to, or touching - ติดกัน

agency (noun): a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ

alarm : fear and anxiety that somebody feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen or has happened - ความกังวล

alarming : worrying or frightening - ซึ่งน่าตกใจ

assign : to give a person a particular task or position - มอบหมาย, สั่งงาน

barrier : a wall, pile of sandbags, etc., that prevents water from entering - สิ่งกีดขวาง

cabinet : the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy - คณะรัฐมนตรี

chair : to be the person in charge of a meeting, committee, or company - ดำรงตำแหน่งประธาน, ทำหน้าที่ในฐานะประธาน

chairman : the person in charge of a committee, a company, etc - ประธาน

coastal : of an area of land beside the sea - แนวชายฝั่งทะเล

compress (verb): to press or squeeze something together or into a smaller space; to be pressed or squeezed in this way - บีบอัด, กดเข้าด้วยกัน

conclude : to decide that something is true after looking at all the evidence you have - สรุป

consider : to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา

contribute to : to help to cause an event or situation - ช่วยก่อให้เกิด

council : a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money - สภา, คณะกรรมการ

crisis : an urgent, difficult, or dangerous situation - วิกฤตการณ์

deal with : to take action to solve a problem - จัดการปัญหา

decade : a period of ten years - ทศวรรษ

devise : to invent a method of doing something - คิดขึ้นใหม่

draft : to write a document, plan, etc. that may be changed before it is finally accepted - ร่าง

erosion : gradually destroying the surface of something through the action of wind, rain, etc; to be gradually destroyed in this way - การกัดกร่อน,การเซาะ

excessive : much greater than is usual; too much of something   - มากเกินปริมาณที่พอดี

factor : a fact or situation which influences the result of something - ปัจจัย

flood (noun): a large amount of water covering an area that is usually dry - น้ำท่วม

groundwater (noun): water that is found under the ground in soil, rocks, etc. - น้ำใต้ดิน

implement : to make something such as an idea, plan, system or law start to work and be used - นำแผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ, นำมาใช้

issue : a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น

law (noun): the whole system of rules that everyone in a country or society must obey - กฎหมาย

level : the amount of liquid that there is in a container, river, dam, etc., which can be seen by how high the liquid is - ระดับ

long-term : that will last or have an effect over a long period of time - ระยะยาว

longstanding (adj): that has existed or lasted for a long time - นาน, ยาวนาน

mean : an amount that is calculated by adding several numbers together and dividing the total by the original number of things that you added together - ค่าเฉลี่ย, ตัวกลาง, มัชฌิม

measure : an action taken to solve a particular problem - มาตรการ

norm (noun): a situation or type of behavior that is expected and considered to be typical - มาตรฐาน, ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ

panel : a group of people who make decisions or judgments - คณะกรรมการ

prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง

protect : to make sure that something is not harmed or damaged - ปกป้อง, ป้องกัน

pumping (noun): making a liquid or gas move into or out of something by using a pump - การสูบน้ำ

raise : to bring up a subject for discussion - ยกขึ้นมาเป็นประเด็น

reform : a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair - การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป

relocate : to move something to a new place - ย้ายที่ใหม่

replace : to put something new in place of something old - นำสิ่งใหม่มาใช้แทน

responsible for : to cause something to happen - ก่อให้เกิด

sea level : the height of the land at the edge of the sea; the average height of the sea/ocean, used as the basis for measuring the height of all places on land - ระดับน้ำทะเล

sinking (noun): causing something or someone to go down below the surface or to the bottom of a liquid or soft substance จม - กำลังจม

situation : all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์

soil : the substance on the surface of the Earth in which plants grow - ดิน

specific : detailed and exact - โดยเฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง

stir (verb): to make people feel strong emotions - ปลุก, ก่อ

storey (noun): a level in a structure; a level in a building - ชั้น, ชั้นของตึกหรืออาคาร

submerged : under water - จมน้ำ อยู่ใต้น้ำ

submergence (noun): causing to go under the surface of water or liquid; putting something or making something go under the surface of water or liquid - การจมน้ำ, การแช่น้ำ

subsidence : the process by which an area of land sinks to a lower level than normal, or by which a building sinks into the ground - การทรุดตัวลง

surrounding : all around a place - บริเวณรอบๆ

tap water : water that is sent through pipes into building - น้ำประปา

therefore : as a result of the reason that has just been mentioned - เพราะฉะนั้น, ดังนั้น

urgent : needing to be dealt with immediately - ที่เร่งด่วน

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