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Chiang Mai Residents Sue Prime Minister Over Toxic PM2.5 Air Quality



Court Finds PM Failed to Protect Citizens from PM2.5 Air Pollutants in Northern Thailand

On Monday, over 1,700 individuals in Chiang Mai filed a case in the Administrative Court against the prime minister and two state agencies for failing to address the region’s toxic air quality, which they claim is reducing their lives by about five years.

Around 60 individuals gathered in the northern province’s Administrative Court to file the complaint against caretaker Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the National Environmental Board, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. They accuse them of failing to use their authority to address the North’s smog problem.

Northern people’s networks, activists, academics from Chiang Mai University, and local citizens are among the approximately 1700 plaintiffs in the class action.

From Friday to Sunday last week, 727 people signed a petition in support of the case at Chiang Mai University’s law faculty, while another 980 did so online. The plaintiffs blamed contract farming for the wreaking havoc on the environment.

Sumitchai Hatthasan, director of the Centre for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights, one of the plaintiffs, said that the prime minister failed to fully utilise his power under the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act to fix the situation.

Plaintiffs claim the National Environmental Board of failing to adequately implement the 2019 national strategy to combat particulate matter pollution.

Risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke

The Securities and Exchange Commission was held accountable for neglecting to investigate the causes of ultrafine dust contamination inside the supply chains of large publicly traded corporations in order to assist in the resolution of the problem.

According to Dr Rangsarit Kanchanawanit of Chiang Mai University’s college of medicine, people’s health in urban areas suffers from hazardous levels of particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter (PM2.5) all year round on average. The degree of pollution increased the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, as well as shortened people’s lives by 4-5 years.

“We want to see the government change its policies, to demonstrate a strong political will that isn’t just concerned with capitalist interests.” “This could save the lives of millions of people,” he stated.

According to Chatchawal Thongdeelert of the Breath Council, the problem of PM2.5 is getting worse by the year. To reduce air pollution, the government must undertake both short-term and long-term remedies.

“The underlying cause is fire, both in forests and on maize plan

Chiang Mai Stay at Home Order

Last Friday, the air monitoring website IQAir named Chiang Mai the world’s most polluted big city, surpassing usual hotspots like Delhi and Lahore.

According to IQAir, levels of the most harmful PM2.5 particles, which are so small that they can enter the bloodstream, were more than 66 times higher than the World Health Organization’s yearly guideline.

Nirat Pongsittitavorn, governor of Chiang Mai province, released a statement asking people to stay indoors and work from home to “protect themselves and reduce the health impact” of PM2.5 particles.

Forest fires have exacerbated the situation in Chiang Mai

In recent weeks, smoke from forest fires and farmers burning crop stubble has shrouded the renowned tourist spot.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha held video conferences with the leaders of neighbouring Myanmar and Laos to discuss the issue, which affects broad parts of Southeast Asia each year.

Thailand has been suffering from severe air pollution since the beginning of the year, owing in part to seasonal agricultural burning.

According to the public health ministry, about two million individuals have required medical care this year for respiratory diseases induced by air pollution.



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