6 June 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin held a special meeting today with the ministers of Interior and Natural Resources and Environment, as well as the chief of the Directorate of Civil Affairs of the Army, to discuss the worsening air pollution problem, which has been at health-threatening levels in many provinces and the capital in the past few days.

He reportedly instructed Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to order all governors of provinces affected by the PM2.5 problem to get out of their offices to make field visits, even at weekends, to observe the problem at first hand, especially the burning of farm waste.

He was quoted as saying that the governors should get their hands and boots dirty, so they can earn the trust of the people.

The prime minister asked those at the meeting to forgive him for being blunt, but he wants to see state and provincial agencies coordinate with one another to tackle not just PM2.5 but other problems as well.

Citing Chiang Mai province as having done a good job in tackling airborne pollution, the prime minister said all governors must get personally involved in the prevention of bushfires and the open burning of farm waste.

He said that the army can deploy their trucks to haul farm waste away to be turned into organic fertiliser, instead of burning it or dumping it in landfills.

He reminded the officials that the ability to breathe clean air is a basic right and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the air is free from PM2.5.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has instructed its mobile units and health offices to distribute free face masks to the public at crowded locations, such as bus and metro stations.

All 69 health service centres in the capital were also told to send mobile units into various communities, to provide out-patient medical services to people suffering from the impacts of PM2.5, to avoid them having to go to hospitals.

The city administration is also advising everyone to check air quality, using the AirBKK application, before leaving home.