Burma, Laos asked to help end haze crisis

Burma, Laos asked to help end haze crisis

28 March 2007

published by www.bangkokpost.com

Thailand — Thailand will seek official cooperation from nothern neighbours, after Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattanasiritham said international cooperation was needed.

Mr Paiboon, who heads the government team tasked with solving the haze problem, said on Monday Thailand will seek official cooperation from the two nearby countries.

Both Burma and Laos pledged to look into the problem when the haze crisis was discussed during a meeting of Asean ministers responsible for the environment in Brunei earlier this month.

His comments came after the northern haze worsened over the weekend and air quality in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces deteriorated.

He said it was up to the provincial governors to decide whether to declare the provinces disaster zones.

He said that his committee has agreed that the global positioning system (GPS) along with rain-making aircraft should be used to detect burning activities and forest fires.

He said this would help authorities contain the fires before they spread and worsen the haze in the region.

About 3,620 officials have been dispatched to help combat the forest fires in the North.

He said the committee will meet on April 2 to evaluate the situation.

Deputy Chiang Mai governor Wilas Rujiwattanaphong said he will call an urgent meeting of officials today if the haze situation does not improve.

The haze is primarily the result of forest fires in Mae Hong Son province and northern Burma. Residents have continued burning dry brush on their farms, worsening the situation.

The Pollution Control Department said yesterday dust particles smaller than 10 microns in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son exceeded the safe level of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre, with levels measured of 156, 163 and 217 microgrammes per cubic metre, respectively.

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