11 July 2024

Chiang Mai administration is offering a reward of Bt10,000 for the arrest of the person or people who started forest fires, as the PM2.5 dust problem in 17 northern provinces, mainly caused by human-initiated forest fires, steadily increases.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Patcharawat Wongsuwan held an online Zoom meeting today with governors of 17 northern provinces, to discuss the worsening haze problem, allegedly caused by arson.

The minister issued an order banning unauthorised access to conserved forests, stating that all trespassers caught starting forest fires will face the full force of the law.

Natural Resources and Environment Permanent Secretary Jatuporn Buruspat said that PM2.5 levels in ten northern provinces exceeded the safe threshold level by a huge margin last week, with 5,000 hotspots being detected in Myanmar, about 1,000 in Cambodia and 700 in Thailand.

He said that talks were held with his Cambodian counterpart last week, to coordinate efforts to deal with forest fires. Meanwhile, the Thai military will coordinate with its Burmese counterparts over transboundary haze from Myanmar.

Jatuporn admitted that it is difficult to control transboundary haze, due to the wind direction blowing from Myanmar.

Chiang Mai Governor Nirat Pongsitthithavorn said that a reward of Bt10,000 is being offered for every arrest of a person caught setting fires in forests.

According to the Air Pollution Mitigation Centre today, PM2.5 levels in 32 northern and north-eastern provinces today exceeded the 37.5µg/m³ threshold level.

According to the Air4Thai website at 9am today, PM levels in the northern region range from 32.6 µg/m³ to 149.5µg/m³, with the highest level being recorded in Wiang Pang Kham sub-district in the Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai.