CHIANG RAI – Assistant Government Spokesman, Col. Athisit Chainuwat, has disclosed that Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has “expressed his concern” over the worsening air quality in the North, especially in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phayao Provinces.
The Prime Minister has ordered the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Interior and the provincial administrations in the Northern Provinces to come up with the guidelines on how to solve the problems together.
The air pollution problem in the North of Thailand was mainly caused by forest fires which occur every year during the dry season. The burning of paddy stubble by farmers also played a part in worsening the air pollution levels.
The relevant officials are working hard to alleviate the situation and enforcing law in an attempt to keep the amount of air pollutants under control.
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, are likely to face health-threatening haze problems from PM2.5 dust particles until at least early May.
The chief of the Climate Change Centre at Chiang Mai University, Associate Professor Seth Sampattakul, says the north will have to wait for the forest fires to be extinguished or the arrival of the rainy season
Meanwhile, Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang University has canceled all it’s classes and all outdoor venues will be closed Monday and Tuesday due to “severe smog situation.”
The levels of air pollution in Chiang Rai this morning rose to “hazardous” with the density of ultrafine particles at more than 330 micrograms per cubic meter, according to monitoring organization AirVisual.
The haze is coming mainly from forest fires and farm-clearing fires raging across the North as well as in neighbouring countries.
Phayao province is blanketed with smog caused by forest fires, as villagers have to wear masks to protect themselves from air pollution.
Satellite images show 1,151 fire hotspots in the North, mostly in forests.
Most are in Mae Hong Son, with 407, while Chiang Mai has 193, Chiang Rai 137, Lampang 109 and Nan 106.
Myanmar has 12,422 and Laos 2,938.
In the tambon of Mae Salong Nok in Chiang Rai’s Mae Fah Luang district, a 62-year-old hilltribes man died on Sunday while helping authorities battle a blaze.
Volunteer Aloh Asangku fell down a steep slope at about 1am. The body was retrieved.