Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Targeted by petition, Chiang Mai governor unveils fresh measures to tackle pollution

Mar 24. 2019
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By The Nation

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CHIANG MAI Governor Supachai Iamsuwan, embattled over a failure to curb smog that has kept his province’s capital on top of the list of the world’s most polluted cities, announced five measures yesterday to tackle forest fires and cropland burning.

The northern tourist magnet was ranked for most of last week as the world’s worst place for air pollution. 

When its Air Quality Index (AQI) topped 400 on both Saturday and yesterday morning, residents launch a petition at Change.org calling for the governor to be removed from office for his “ineffectiveness in tackling the haze”.

As of 4pm yesterday, 8,000 of the 10,000 signatures sought had already been added.

The petition accuses Supachai of failing to issue health warnings, withholding information, and criticising public efforts to establish an anti-haze movement, as well as ignoring residents’ advice on solving the problem.

Supachai has responded with five measures: 

lAssign health units and local administrators to advise residents on healthcare and distribute facemasks to children, the chronically ill and the general public members 

lHave local administrative bodies earmark funds for these tasks 

lHave district offices coordinate with state agencies to implement dust-reduction and humidity-boosting measures and control haze-generating activities 

lHave the authorities strictly implement the ban on outdoor burning through April 30 and respond more quickly to forest fires

lUse all communication channels to increase public awareness of the outdoor burning ban and win their cooperation.

Dr Rangsarit Kanchanavanich, a lecturer and expert on heart disease attached to Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine, has meanwhile claimed on Facebook that the Public Health Ministry wanted Chiang Mai declared a haze disaster zone.

But the Interior Ministry resisted the idea, fearing an adverse impact on tourism, Rangsarit said. 

The doctor sarcastically posted a photo of a mocked handwritten declaration later of the haze disaster zone for Chiang Mai and adjacent provinces beginning on Saturday.

The Pollution Control Department reported at 9am yesterday that all nine northern provinces had dangerous levels of PM2.5 – particulates 2.5 microns of less in diameter – ranging from 90-241 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

The safe limit in Thailand is 50mcg. 

Tambons Chang Pheuk and Sriphum in Muang Chiang Mai were at 241mcg and 221mcg, respectively, while Jong Kham in Muang Mae Hong Son was at 233mcg.

 

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