CHIANG RAI – The Military Junta has ordered authorities to work with neighbouring countries to tackle haze pollution in the northern provinces caused by slash-and-burn farming. Calling on authorities to enforce laws regarding land burning.
The Nation reported that Thai Military mobilised all its resources yesterday to combat the haze crisis in the North, which threatens to be the worst in recent history, with air pollution in some parts of Chiang Rai province already three times beyond safety limits.
The situation has worsened to the point that several military aircraft, including two Chinooks from Singapore, are actively spraying the area with water in a bid to reduce the smog.
The Thai-Myanmar Joint Border Committee will convene a meeting in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district to discuss the smog problem today. The air pollution in this district stood at 280 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic metre of air yesterday. The particulate matter is less than less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10).
The amount of PM10 per cubic metre of air was also alarmingly high at 383mcg in Chiang Rai’s Muang district between 7am and 9am yesterday.
The amount of PM10 should never exceed 120mcg per cubic metre of air.
Chiang Rai’s disaster-prevention-and-mitigation chief Sawang Momdee said “We are now seriously advising people to wear face masks when going outside.”
Thick smog reduced visibility on the road to just 500 metres, though it did not affect flight services to and from the province yesterday. Chiang Rai Airport has installed extra lighting on its runway to improve visibility.
The Pollution Control Department said the situation will worsen today due to overall weather conditions, adding that the amount of PM10 will most likely rise in all eight smog-hit provinces in the North by between 2 and 8 per cent.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said “It’s difficult to persuade locals not to burn off forests and land. Authorities need to enforce laws prohibiting the practice.”
The practice is part of local cultural heritage, he added.
Prayut has ordered the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to lead other ministries in tackling the haze problem.
The Foreign Ministry would be ordered to send a letter to neighbouring countries and request cooperation in dealing with a number of haze pollution hot spots, said Wichien Jungrungruang, chief of the Pollution Control Department.
Apart from Chiang Rai, the provinces of Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Phayao, Nan, Lampang, Phrae and Uttaradit are also struggling with air pollution.
Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) spokesman ACM Monthon Satchukorn said yesterday that Singapore Air Force, which is taking part in Cope Tiger 2015 joint military exercises, will deploy its two Chinook helicopters to help Thailand deal with the smog and forest-fire problem. These helicopters will join the several that Thailand’s armed forces have deployed for the mission. By Nattawat Laping, Panya Thiosangwan,Ayuthai Nontirat