Thailand seeks more cash to fight smog
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry of Thailand will today request Cabinet approval for 20 million baht (US$ 647,249) to hire 1,000 more workers to bring the raging northern smog under control, a source said yesterday.
Since early February, heavy haze has hit the northern region and posed health hazards to humans in several provinces.
In Chiang Rai, dust particles smaller than 10 microns have been measured at 437.6 micrograms per cubic metre, which is beyond the safe limit of 120 micrograms within a 24-hour period.
The air pollution has scared away visitors and hurt the tourism, social and economic sectors.
The smoke has been blamed on poachers setting forests on fire to collect wildlife or organisms or products from the wild and farmers’ burning fields after the harvest to prepare for planting their next crop. Plantation fires have been spotted in both agricultural and forest areas.
A survey of eight northern provinces – Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae and Nan – found that hotspots had tripled from the same season last year.
The ministry has been attacking the problem with 31 permanent stations to contain bush fires, 98 mobile fire-fighting units and 1,400 firemen and local volunteers, but it persists especially in the upper North.