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Chiang Rai’s Governor Closes Off Forests as Illegal Burning Continues Despite Restrictions

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CHIANG RAI – The Governor of Chiang Rai has ordered all forests conditionally closed off for seven days and placed authorities on 24 hour alert after man-made fires continued to occur despite a 60 day order against such activities, in place until April 20.

Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osot-tanakorn has held a meeting with all agencies relevant to the annual smog problem in the northern region, after it was found particulate levels in the air over nine provinces of the region are on the rise and that forest fires set by farmers have continued to spread to national forests.

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The Governor ordered that all forest areas in Chiang Rai be closed off for seven days in line with similar measures taking place across all nine provinces. Anyone who wishes to enter the forests between March 25 and 31 will have to seek permission and is barred from bringing along items such as lighters and matches.

Monitoring of hot spots has also been ordered. Chiang Rai experienced 2,000 such spots in 2016, 19 in 2017 and so far three this year, two in Mae Saruay district and one in Wiang district. Air quality in the province is still however within acceptable parameters.

A stringent 60 day period barring burning of any kind is currently in effect across the north, with violators to face strict punishment and any reports that lead to arrests to be rewarded with 5,000 baht. Citizens have been encouraged to avoid burning to deal with waste and to instead separate out garbage for composting and recycling. The period is to run until April 20.

By Itiporn Lakarnchua

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