Overall situation under control: Anupong

Overall situation under control: Anupong

Anupong: Dams can hold more water
Anupong: Dams can hold more water

Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda is playing down fears of major floods in Bangkok and several other parts of the country, saying the country's key reservoirs are still capable of receiving more water.

"Although one or two tropical storms are expected later this year, these dams are still well below their retention capacity," Gen Anupong told a Senate session in parliament on Monday.

He was responding to a motion submitted by Senator Panthep Klanarongran, who asked the government to respond to public concerns over the possibility of worsening inundation.

This year's total precipitation is expected to reach 1,500 millimetres, about 26% higher than average annual rainfall.

Gen Anupong noted that Thailand has yet to be hit by a tropical storm this year. In previous years, floods were brought on by storms, but this year, the increased rainfall is caused by a wetter monsoon.

"Authorities are sticking with the default approach of water management, which was designed to control floods, while at the same time keeping sufficient water in dams and reservoirs for the dry season," he said.

Currently, floods have been reported in 13 provinces, namely Phayao, Nan, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phetchabun, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Rayong and Chanthaburi.

In Bangkok, authorities have adopted a special water management system which diverts water run-off from the provinces away from the capital, allowing them to focus on draining excess rainwater from the city's streets, he said.

"In short, the overall situation is under control," he said.

Separately, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt, said the situation in Bangkok was improving.

Water levels in most of the city's major canals were decreasing -- except along Klong Prawet Buri Rom in eastern Bangkok, which rose by 60 centimetres on Monday, exacerbating floods in communities along the canal.

It might be time for the capital to review its flood mitigation plan and pay more attention to improving the drainage capacity of canals instead of focusing mainly on building a huge flood tunnel, he said.

"We have to accept the truth that our drains may no longer be large enough to drain off flood water," he said.

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