Sunday, September 16, 2012

Floods dampen Thai adaptation plans

Marwaan Macan-Markar in IPS: Thailand’s flood-management blueprint  received a jolt when the dykes in Sukhothai were breached by the rain-swollen Yom river last week, submerging large stretches of the former royal capital.Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra toured the flood-damaged historic city 430 km north of Bangkok, reliving relief operations that were mounted last year when the central plains, including the capital, were hit by the worst floods in the country’s history.

The barriers designed to prevent the river overflowing were in need of repair, but this “wasn’t done after last year’s flood,” science and technology minister Plodprasop Suraswadi told a local radio station.

While the scale of the damage from last week’s floods is marginal when compared with last year’s historic disaster, the timing of this latest threat – which could also affect other towns and cities downstream from Sukhothai - puts the one-year-old Yingluck administration in a spot.

After all, it comes barely two weeks after the government unveiled plans about its flood management strategy for the country that conveyed a “new attitude towards coping with floods in urban areas.”

The 11.5-billion-dollar flood management plans were conceived to avoid the mistakes from the past, aiming to “go beyond just defending urban centres from floods,” says Anond Snidvongs, a Thai flood expert. “The main principle in the plan is to include the need to live with the impacts of climate change.”....

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