Flood prep begins ahead of deluges

Severe flooding hits South East Asia

State officials and residents in flood-prone areas have agreed to once again adopt the “Bang Rakam” model to deal with inundations expected to hit low-lying areas in Phitsanulok and Sukhothai provinces later this year.

“Last year’s plan proved to be an adequate solution, so all parties have agreed to go ahead with the same plan this year,” 3rd Army chief Lt Gen Wichak Siribansop said Tuesday.

Lt Gen Wichak was speaking while he presided over a ceremony held to have experts from the state Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute and representatives of flood victims in the two provinces sign a memorandum of cooperation (MoC).

“The MoC is important because it encourages all sectors to integrate their [water] plans and budgets,” Lt Gen Wichak said.

The Bang Rakam approach to ensure faster responses to flood disasters was initiated by the Yingluck Shinawatra administration in 2011 when Phitsanulok’s Bang Rakam district was lashed by floods.

It has subsequently been further developed by the Prayut Chan-o-cha government.

Last year the plan was implemented in accordance with the government’s Pracharat scheme, Lt Gen Wichak said, referring to the policy that urges stronger cooperation among the government, businesses and the civic sector.

Farmers and residents in an area of 265,000 rai in Phitsanulok and Sukhothai benefited from the measures, he said.

This year, the government will extend the area to 382,000 rai, according to the 3rd Army chief.

Under the Bang Rakam model, water management will be carefully planned to prevent flooding in low-lying areas that sit between the Yom and Nan rivers.

Parts of these areas will be used to retain overflow, especially from the Yom River, the only major river in the North where a dam has not been built.

This method not only relieves severe flooding in Phitsanulok and Sukhothai, but it also helps slow water run-off from the North that travels down to the Chao Phraya River in the Central Plains.

Last year it helped slow up to 400 million cubic metres of water, Lt Gen Wichak said.

The model involves supplying water to rice farmers, so they can finish harvesting before paddy fields are hit by floods.

“It [the model] shows the benefits of systematic water management,” Lt Gen Wichak said.

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