Thai lawmakers submit motion on moving capital

A mother holds her child as she shifts her belongings from a flooded neighbourhood in Rangsit district in the outskirts of of Bangkok. Lawmakers from Thailand's ruling political party have submitted a parliamentary motion to begin discussions over possibly shifting the capital city to prevent future flooding chaos

Lawmakers from Thailand's ruling political party submitted a parliamentary motion on Tuesday to begin discussions over possibly shifting the capital city to prevent future flooding chaos.

Experts have said Bangkok, which is built on swampland, is slowly sinking and the floods currently besieging the city of 12 million people could be merely a foretaste of a grim future, as climate change makes its impact felt.

Sataporn Maneerat, a Puea Thai party MP, told AFP that Thailand should think about looking to another city for future developments and investments.

"Another 19 Puea Thai MPs and I have signed and submitted a motion to parliament to seek approval to set up a committee, to consider whether the capital should be moved or if Thailand should have a second capital," he said.

"Bangkok is sinking every year. The capital will face more and more problems from natural disasters and the environment," he said, adding that the current capital was "over its peak".

He said the main alternative options for relocating the kingdom's political and economic heartland were in eastern and northeastern provinces.

At least 562 people have been killed across the country in Thailand's worst floods in half a century, which have inundated parts of the capital, although the downtown area remains dry after authorities' efforts to divert the waters.

The low-lying metropolis lies just 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the Gulf of Thailand, where various experts forecast sea level will rise by 19 to 29 centimetres (7 to 11 inches) by 2050 as a result of global warming.

Water levels would also increase in Bangkok's main Chao Phraya river, which already overflows regularly.

If no action is taken to protect the city, "in 50 years... most of Bangkok will be below sea level," said Anond Snidvongs, a climate change expert at the capital's Chulalongkorn University, told AFP earlier this month.