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Haze Control Efforts Ramped Up in Northern Thailand Ahead of Songkran

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Haze Control Efforts Ramped Up in Northern Thailand

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has directed Chiang Mai and all northern Thailand provinces to establish their operation centers to deal with the haze situation in order to reduce air pollution during the approaching Songkran celebration, which is expected to attract a large number of tourists.

The centers, each supervised by a provincial governor, are anticipated to be fully functioning by Wednesday, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Phatcharavat Wongsuwan.

The governors are also responsible for keeping the public and the media informed of the local situation regarding harmful dust pollution.

Mr Phatcharavat disagreed that this measure was too late, stating that all relevant parties had been working hard for months to reduce levels of ultrafine dust particles.

“The establishment of these centres is another part of this ongoing work,” he went on to say.

The deputy prime minister also directed relevant state agencies to collaborate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an effort to initiate discussions with neighboring countries suspected of causing Thailand’s transboundary haze pollution.

Pol Gen Phatcharavat stated that the army is also attempting to assist with negotiations with these countries by arranging meetings through common border committees.

haze Chiang Mai, northern thailand

Chiang Mai World’s Most Polluted City

All efforts are being made to mitigate the negative impact of air pollution in the North, notably in the tourism industry, especially during the Songkran celebration, he stated.

The Chiang Mai operation center will get hardware and technology to aid in the fight against pollution today. Chiang Mai authorities recommended citizens to work from home till tomorrow owing to rising PM2.5 levels.

On Tuesday morning, Chiang Mai topped the list of the world’s most polluting cities, as thick pollution continued to plague the northern area.

At 9.20 a.m., Chiang Mai municipality reclaimed its status as the most polluted city, with fine dust levels at 203 microgrammes per cubic meter, according to IQAir rankings. According to the weather monitoring website, the city is “very unhealthy,” and this could persist into Wednesday and beyond.

Northern Thailand will celebrate the Songkran water festival from Thursday until next Monday, and Chiang Mai is always one of the most popular tourist locations.

On Monday, Chiang Mai Governor Nirat Pongsitthithavorn designated disaster zones in seven districts but not in Muang, one of the province’s most polluted. The proclamation makes it easier to provide budgeted emergency assistance to the districts of Fang, Phrao, Chiang Dao, Mae Taeng, Chaiprakarn, Mae Ai, and Wieng Haeng.

Toxic PM2.5 Haze Affects Chiang Mai's Hotel Bookings

Work from Order Given in Northern Thailand

Because of the air pollution, the governor directed state officials to work from home until Thursday, and recommended residents and visitors to avoid outdoor activities if possible and to use masks if they must leave the house.

At Monday’s press conference, Mr Nirat was asked why he purposefully downplayed Chiang Mai’s pollution levels and the number of patients with respiratory ailments. He vehemently rejected this. Officials “have given the press all information, and you may freely write about it,” he stated.

Pita Limjaroenrat, the Move Forward Party’s chief adviser, claimed on Monday that the governor and provincial authorities were making selective decisions. “Other districts with serious pollution are not on the list,” he wrote on the X platform.

The northern provinces of Chiang Rai, Lampang, Phayao, Nan, Chiang Mai, and Mae Hong Song were also on the list of locations with high PM2.5 dust levels on Tuesday, although their situation was not as bad as Chiang Mai’s, according to the Pollution Control Department.

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Hotel Occupancy Rate at 70% for Songkran

With concerns about high levels of air pollution rising ahead of Songkran 2024, weather experts issued an alert on Tuesday, warning of probable summer storms in the northern, northeastern, and central regions until Thursday. The Meteorological Department predicted scattered storms for Chiang Mai on Wednesday and Thursday.

Despite the rising PM2.5 problem, hotels in Chiang Mai are currently booked at 70%, with many of them by international tourists, according to Patsin Sawetrat, director of the Tourism Authority’s Chiang Mai office.

While recognizing that smoke from forest fires may have an impact on tourism, she stated that it happens every year during the dry season, and she anticipates greater hotel occupancy during the Songkran celebration, which runs from April 12 to April 16.

The expected revenue from tourists during Songkran in Chiang Mai is over 1.2 billion baht, she said, adding that the TAT office staged a “sacred” water rite at nine temples to bless the city and its residents.

The “sacred” water will fill 17,728 bottles, which will be given throughout the city as an auspicious item. A similar ceremony has taken place in the province for the past four years.

The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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