Yingluck sets up new flood committees

Yingluck sets up new flood committees

Smith says disaster result of state bungling

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday created two new flood management committees and vowed to designate 2 million rai as flood retention areas within a month.

The new Committee on National Water and Flood Policies is chaired by the premier, while the Committee on Water and Flood Management is chaired by Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi.

Ms Yingluck said the government has adjusted its water management plan in line with suggestions made by His Majesty the King when he met the premier and members of the Strategic Formulation Committee for Water Resources Management last Friday.

She has instructed the Agriculture and Cooperative Ministry to regularly and prudently release water from major dams and review levels on a daily basis.

The ministry must also make the final decision on the location of 2 million rai of water retention areas in the Central Plains within a month, Ms Yingluck said.

She also insisted the government does not have any plans to turn certain roads into floodways.

Meanwhile, Smith Dharmasarojana, former director-general of the Meteorological Department, and Pramote Maiklad, former director-general of the Royal Irrigation Department, yesterday claimed that last year's flood crisis was not an accident but the result of mismanagement by up to 20 state agencies.

Speaking at a seminar in Ayutthaya on local organisations' efforts to solve flood problems, Mr Smith said the crisis was a result of mismanagement by 20 state agencies and a lack of cooperation and planning among them.

"Do not say the flood was an accident," Mr Smith said. "It was not an accident. Do not say that nature punished us. It is clear that what caused the flooding were mistakes by state authorities."

He added it was impossible to prevent flooding in the central provinces as most areas were naturally low-lying, but the government had the power to lessen the damage.

Mr Smith also expressed his opposition to the plan to widen and deepen the mouth of the Chao Phraya River to speed up water drainage.

He said it would damage the ecological system in the area and allow a strong sea current to surge into the river.

Such a plan will cause the riverbanks on both sides of the Chao Phraya in Samut Prakan province to crumble into the sea, Mr Smith warned.

In his speech, Mr Pramote said a mitigation effort is necessary.

"Thailand today does not have a system to drain floodwater or water run-off into the sea," he warned.

"We do not have a feasible plan either. What we have done in the past was drain run-off into natural waterways and canals dug in the reign of King Rama V.

"We face flooding problems every year but no government has ever come up with an effective water drainage system."

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