Anger rises in flooded Bangkok as centre stays dry

Tensions were rising between Thai residents and authorities in flooded parts of Bangkok on Monday.

Updated: Oct 31, 2011, 18:34 PM IST

Bangkok: Tensions were rising between Thai
residents and authorities in flooded parts of Bangkok on Monday,
with hundreds protesting that their homes were being
sacrificed in attempts to keep the city centre dry.

Police said 200 to 300 people gathered to demand the wider
opening of a sluice gate in the northeastern district of
Khlong Sam Wa, but the officials held firm and at one point
formed a human chain to keep back the villagers.

"The FROC (Flood Relief Operations Centre) has asked the
Army to send personnel to areas where it has conflicts. The
Army has sent 200 military police to back up police forces,"
said defence minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha.

Hopes are growing that central Bangkok will be spared from
major inundation after barriers along Bangkok`s swollen Chao
Phraya River prevented a major overflow during a spring high
tide over the weekend.

But the UN`s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) said the situation remained "critical" in
several flooded districts in northern and western city areas,
some with water levels rising above one metre (3 feet).

"Meanwhile, tensions are being reported between the
authorities and local residents who fear that floodwalls are
preventing water from draining out of their districts," the
OCHA statement said.

It said a group of residents destroyed a dyke in northern
Don Mueang on Saturday, causing a huge volume of floodwater to
flow into the Prapa canal which supplies tap water to Bangkok.

"The military has deployed 50,000 troops across the
country to guard and maintain the flood barriers," said the

Villagers in Khlong Sam Wa, who also blocked two roads on
their second day of protest today, said they were paying the
price to keep Thailand`s capital and economic heartland free
from the kingdom`s worst flooding in decades.

"My house has been flooded for two months now and in the
last two weeks it`s got worse," Samorn Sohwiset, 43, said.
"I`ll stay here until they open the gate."

Another young male villager, who was digging an irrigation
channel to bypass the gate and allow water to pass to the
other side, said officials only cared "for the rich people".

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said that
fully opening the gates would threaten key areas of the

"We don`t want a group of people to affect our long-term
plan," said BMA spokesman Jate Sopitpongstorn. "We take care
of the overall situation".