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Bangkok in Danger of Sinking, Panel Finds

floodIn 15 years, Thai capital Bangkok could be submerged or relocated, if the government won’t find solutions to counter the metropolis’ subsidence. A study commissioned by the National Reform Council has revealed that, due to rising sea levels, the growing number of high buildings and because of excessive groundwater pumping, the city is slowly sinking.

“There are about 700 buildings with 20 floors or more and 4,000 buildings with 8-20 floors in Bangkok. There are also many electric railways. These could cause the submergence of parts of Bangkok and surrounding areas in the future”, said the chairman of the National Reform Council, Withaya Kulsomboon, at a meeting of the NRC earlier this week.

The situation is deemed to be urgent, says the committee: if no measures are taken, Bangkok will be underwater in 15 years. One of the long-term solutions is, according to NRC, a rather drastic one: relocation. Additional laws are required, while the government should create or assign specific agencies to oversee planning, added Mr. Withaya at a conference with representatives of the media.

One of the main problems and the easiest to fix is the excessive pumping of groundwater in areas where tap water is unavailable. Technically, pumping has removed underground water at a faster rate than it could be replaced, which led to soil compression.

One of the panel’s members, Sucharit Koontanakulvong, said that an option which will be presented to the government is the building of barriers between Si Racha district of Chon buri to Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The dams would prevent the capital from being submerged and hold off coastal erosion, said Mr. Sucharit, adding that the project would cost 500 billion baht.

The report, which was overwhelmingly accepted and voted 166-to-5 (four members of the council abstained), will be reviewed by the panel in the next seven days, and then it will be sent to the governing cabinet.

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