CHIANG RAI – The haze problem in the North worsened last week with the intensity of dust particles exceeding the safe limit in every northern province, Pollution Control Department director Wijarn Simachaya revealed on Saturday.
Haze from Laos and Myanmar was another source of the pollution covering the northern region.
Wijarn disclosed that Thailand was working closely with its neighbours to reduce the hotspots, but efforts were still largely ineffective.
“The haze in the northern region comes from domestic hotspots and the trans-boundary haze from our neighbouring countries. The most affected areas of the haze from abroad are in Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai, where they are situated close to the border and on the downwind side,” Wijarn explained.
He said Thai government had sent petitions about the trans-boundary haze to the Asean Secretariat to inform Myanmar and Laos to control it. There were also several bilateral meetings to tackle the haze problems.
However, he admitted haze control operations in the neighbouring countries still had problems on the operational level.
Chiang Rai Governor Boonsong Techamaneesathit revealed that the province-to-province framework on tackling trans-boundary haze was not progressing well either.
Difficulties in Enforcing Law
“Chiang Rai province officials have met with Myanmar and Laos local authorities to control the burning in their areas three times since New Year, but difficulties in enforcing the law in some areas made it impossible to totally control the burning,” Boonsong said.
Information with the Pollution Control Department revealed that the PM10 (pollution monitoring) level in many provinces peaked on Thursday; in some areas such as Chiang Rai’s Mae Sot district, PM10 levels rose to 311 micrograms per cubic metre of air.
“The strong El Nino will prolong the drought until late May, so there is the potential that the haze season this year will be one of the longest and most serious in history,” Sate said.
He also said that the 60-day burning ban only delayed the problem. Even though farmers avoided burning leftover material from farming during the ban period because of heavy penalties, the material still remained and the farmers would burn it after the ban period.