CHIANGRAI TIMES – Who is burning in the north of Thailand? And where are the sources of the fires? I believe many are asking the same questions and will probably turn to Google Earth or Google maps right away for answers. But the answers we get may just be where, but not who.
I live in Chiang Rai quite close to Chiang Rai Beach, a place where many locals and tourists come to relax and enjoy the river view. There is a public park nearby named Princess Mother Fitness Park. This park belongs to the Chiang Rai Municipality Office and it is the former venue of the annual flower festival. The park is now very shabby with almost no upkeep. Hundreds of trees and flowering plants are dying. And yet I was shocked recently to see some people obviously hired to clear the fallen leaves start to burn the leaves right next to some trees. Therefore, not knowing those who burn in the middle of the night in the forests, I do know who is burning right on the fringe of the city.
This brings up a big question. Why can’t the local governments educate people in all local communities? Teach them how to use dried leaves to make compost to use or sell. I will be happy to buy to contribute to the local economy.
I also witnessed very recently someone starting a fire right by the Kok River on the opposite side. I also suspect some food vendors are clearing bushes to make bamboo huts for their stalls, to cash in during the coming Songkran holiday.
For more than a month, we residents in northern Thailand, a region better known for its cool and green environment, have been suffering from the insane actions of some very uneducated and selfish people. It seems that the government has not been able to come up with a long-term solution. Tourism has been down more than 50 per cent and the health and economic wellbeing of millions of local residents is endangered. The government must now come up with some long-term strategic plans to prevent such incidents occurring year after year.
By – Jaffee Yee Chiang Rai