By The Nation
The operation will be jointly organised by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Bangkok Aviation Centre.
“Water will be sprayed over the entire stretch of Rama II Road in Bangkok and will probably extend to the portion of the road adjacent to Samut Sakhon province,” Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang said yesterday. He added that the target area would be about 60 kilometres long and 1km wide.
“The planes will fly about 300 to 400 metres above ground,” he said.
Rama II Road, which is a key route for people and cargo heading to the country’s South, has been blanketed with a dangerous level of PM2.5 dust particles for several days already.
Air pollution in Bangkok and nearby provinces has hit serious levels for several weeks now.
According to the Pollution Control Department (PCD), the amount of PM2.5 particles should not exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air. The World Health Organisation says PM2.5 dust particles, which are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller, are carcinogenic.
As of yesterday, many areas in Bangkok saw the amount of PM2.5 rising above 90 micrograms per cubic metre of air. The affected areas include the front of Kasetsart University in Bang Khen district (106 micrograms); Charan Sanitwong Road in Bang Phlat district (94 micrograms); Bang Kho Laem district (92 micrograms); Bueng Kum district (92 micrograms) and Bang Khunthien district (91 micrograms). Bang Khunthien district is adjacent to Samut Sakhon, which has also been suffering from a prolonged dust crisis.
The air pollution has become so serious that the BMA has already ordered schools to close for two days, and Aswin himself called on experts yesterday to seek advice on how best to tackle the haze.
BMA has also dispatched drones to spray water in the hope of lowering the dust particles. Each drone carries 10 litres of water.
“These drones will continue even after small planes from the Bangkok Aviation Centre join our efforts,” the Bangkok governor said.
Aswin has also called on people to help by using diesel-run vehicles only when it is very necessary and refraining from burning outdoor fires. Chinese shrines and foundations have been asked to perform Chinese New Year rituals in a less polluting manner.
The Traffic Police Division, meanwhile, is now working with the Land Transport Department to check all public buses.
“If any bus is found emitting exhaust that is beyond proper standards, it will be banned from service,” the division’s chief Pol Maj-General Nithithorn Chintakanon said, adding that no bus so far has been found exceeding the limits.
“By the way, we have already recommended improvements for buses that are close to exceeding the exhaust limit,” he said.
The Army is also taking part in several operations to help fight the pollution by spraying water, checking vehicles’ exhausts and inspecting industrial plants.