Fish pulled from New World pond

Fish pulled from New World pond

Workers from the Fisheries Department and Phra Nakhon district are moving about 3,000 fish out of Bangkok’s condemned New World shopping centre where they have swum around for more than 10 years.

Officers use nets to catch fish in the basement of an abandoned mall in Bangkok on Jan 13, 2015. They are moving thousands of fish, including Tilapia, Iridescent shark and Carp, from a pond of the New World Mall before its demolition. — Wichan Charoenkiartpakun

The district contacted the department to remove the fish from the ground floor of the mall in the Bang Lamphu area. Staff from fisheries research and development centres in Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya were assigned to carry out the task.

The workers and fisheries staffers used fishing nets and gear to corner the fish and relocate them to centres in the three provinces.

The fish will be kept there for about three weeks before being released to reservoirs, canals and rivers, said Veera Watcharagoneyotine, director of the centre in Samut Prakan, while supervising Tuesday's project.

''There are about 3,000 fish, most of them mango fish, striped catfish and catfish,'' he added.

The pond attracted public attention in June last year when photos of it were posted online, drawing more people to visit the abandoned centre to feed them. The district office later declared the building off limits due to safety concerns.

In fact, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration had barred entry to the premises since 2011, but the public ignored the order.

The history of the pond dates back to 1997 when the Supreme Court ordered the demolition of the seven-storey extension of the 11-storey shopping centre. The judges uncovered the fact that the store operators originally asked for permission from City Hall to construct a four-storey building.

The seven floors illegally added to New World were then demolished by the BMA. The work left a four-storey structure, with no roof or covering. Years of rain turned the waterlogged ground floor into a 500sqm pond.

Sommai Chuanpak, who owns a coffee stand in front of the mall and takes care of the fish, said the fish were released to the pond in 2004 by people in the area disturbed by the mosquito problems from the water inside the building.

Phra Nakhon district director Somchai Traipittayakul said the water will be drained from the building after all fish are removed, but the office will not be responsible for building a roof over New World. The mall owner has to bear responsibility for repairs, he added.

The building is owned by Kaew Pooktuanthong, who operates the Kaew Fah Plaza in Bang Lamphu. The BMA is demanding demolition costs of about 10 million baht from him.

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