Saturday, October 29, 2011


HOMES FACED WITH RISING WATERS - Severe flooding in Thailand on Saturday threatened central areas of Bangkok, a bustling capital barely above sea level and facing inundation at the next high tide predicted at 13 feet.  Residents who decided to stay in their homes despite government pleas to get out waited anxiously to see whether high tide, forecast for Saturday afternoon, would overwhelm defenses along the Chao Phraya River and its many canals.  Bangkok’s outer suburbs were already submerged, but the central city had been largely spared the misery Thailand has been suffering for months in the nation’s worst flooding since 1942.  In the east and the north of the city, water was at waist-level in some neighborhoods, but in central Bangkok, it had been mostly dry.  The city was facing two converging threats, however.  Runoff the equivalent of 480,000 Olympic-size pools was flowing south to the sea through Bangkok, as high tide pushed the water in the opposite direction.

Saturday’s high tide, the Red Cross said, was expected to put “extreme pressure” on Bangkok’s elaborate system of dikes and other flood defenses.  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ordered work crews Friday to cut channels in roadways to allow faster drainage, according to the state-run MCOT news agency. But the plan was rejected late in the day in favor of dredging canals and using pumps.  Health concerns were rising with the water.  Bangkok residents waded through murky waters without knowing what lurked within, the risk of infection and communicable disease worrying health officials. The government sent out crocodile hunters after reports of crocodiles and snakes in the filthy floodwater.  As floodwater entered homes, some Bangkok residents still in the city made plans to leave.

The centre of Bangkok may dodge the worst floods to hit Thailand in nearly 60 years by flood defences which shield the city’s centre, but it is expected that large tides from the Gulf of Thailand hit their peak on Saturday and test the defenses.  However, Bangkok’s outskirts and much of the countryside remain submerged.  It is believed that Thailand may lose a quarter of its main rice crop, which could increase prices from the world’s top exporter of the grain.  There are many reasons for that but the deforestation of the hills which has serious environmental consequences is one of them.

The people of the mountain valleys had always depended on the forests for their livelihood in one way or another, but they had never simply taken from them - they had preserved the forests for future generations, using only what they needed in a sustainable way. Now all that was changing. ... The trees were being treated as a disposable source of instant wealth to feed industry, but they were also an essential protection for the land. Trees captured the moisture of the heavy monsoon rains and released it gradually into the river system. They also held the fragile mountain-sides in place.  Without tree-cover, they became disaster areas. Flash floods and landslides became regular occurrences and have been responsible for a growing toll of death and damage throughout the second part of this century.  Diminishing forests also meant the drying up of mountain springs, loss of topsoil, fuel, fodder and fertiliser - all essential for village economy.

“Ranchor Prime (Śripad Ranchor Dasa) :
“Hinduism & Ecology - Seeds of Truth”
Chapter Eleven:  “Hugging The Trees”
Friends of Vrindavan (FOV) - WWF

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