PM orders haze in North to be tackled in seven days
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered officials to tackle worsening smog in upper northern provinces within seven days and ordered a manhunt for arsonists who deliberately set forest fires.
The Prime Minister flew into Chiang Mai this morning to hold talks with governors and other officials in northern provinces affected by haze which poses a serious threat to health. He offered moral support and urged members of the public to cooperate with the authorities by not burning in the open and to report suspected arsonists.
General Prayut also donated face masks to be distributed to the public, as well as equipment and survival kits to officials involved in fighting forest fires.
A small group of Chiang Mai residents demonstrated in front of the northern office of the Bank of Thailand, where the Prime Minister was chairing a meeting to discuss the haze problem, to urge him to declare Chiang Mai a disaster zone, so that stronger measures can be applied to cope with the smog, and to stop promoting maize cultivation in the North. About 640,000 hectares have been transformed into maize plantations and the burning after the harvest is blamed for contributing to haze.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Terra satellite images on Monday April 1st showed a total of 6,936 hot spots in northern Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia, with more than 3,400 hot spots in Myanmar alone. There were 732 hot spots in northern Thailand, including 159 in Chiang Mai, 69 in Chiang Rai, 85 in Lampang, 237 in Mae Hong Sob, 68 in Tak and 40 in Phayao.
PM2.5 particulate readings for the past 24 hours range from 39 to238 microns while PMk10 dust particles readings range from 52-269 microns. Tambon Jongkham in Muang district of Mae Hong Son province topped the list at 238 microns of PM2.5 dust particles against the standard level of 50 microns.
The Air Force sent two transport planes to spray water over Chiang Mai to ease the haze problem. Troops from the Third Army Region have also been deployed to reinforce fire-fighting volunteers and fire-fighting units from national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.