PM denies Ayutthaya flood is water mismanagement

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BANGKOK, Feb 8 — Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has rejected possible criticism that the new flooding in Ayutthaya’s Sena district was caused by water mismanagement, but ordered the province’s governor to extend assistance to residents who are affected by the overflowing Chao Phraya River.

Ms Yingluck said that the incident was caused by the normal discharge of water from the Bhumibol and Sirikit dams in Tak and Uttaradit respectively to prevent possible flooding later in the rainy season.

She said that formerly the dams maintained a minimum water storage level at 60 per cent of their capacities, but water storage levels of both dams were now expected to be reduced to 45 per cent of their storage capacity in preparation for the new rainy season.

The premier said that she has ordered the Ayutthaya governor to help the flood victims in the district, but said that all data on the water discharged should be collected for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Royal Irrigation Department for planning.

The volume of water released from the dams may be reduced to give more time to let the floodwater drain, she said, asserting that the flood was not the result of water mismanagement.

The prime minister said that Ayutthaya is situated at a lower elevation (than upriver locations) and the incident should be taken into consideration regarding future actions on the water management plan.

The current experience could be used to adjust the plan, she said, noting that the flood prevention measures must be improved.