Prayuth asks Myanmar, Laos to curb fires

Prayuth asks Myanmar, Laos to curb fires

07 March 2012

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Thailand / Myanmar / Laos — Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has asked the Myanmar and Lao governments to help curb forest and farmland fires near border areas in a bid to tackle the haze problem in the North.

Haze has affected not only the northern part of Thailand but also nearby border towns in Myanmar and Laos, said Gen Prayuth yesterday.

Smoke from forest fires and slash-and-burn activities in neighbouring countries is believed to have contributed to the haze.

Chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanavisit said the opposition would file an interpellation in parliament demanding the government explain what it has done to ease the problem.

In Chiang Rai province, the level of haze-induced air pollution is still higher than 120 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/cu m), the safe level. Chiang Rai city is covered by smog.

Chettha Mosikrat, head of Chiang Rai’s disaster prevention and mitigation office, said the levels of dust particles in the air in Chiang Rai and nearby provinces posed a serious concern.

Farmers in neighbouring countries and in northern provinces have continued to burn weeds on their farmland.

A ridge of high pressure in the region, which results in dust particles lingering in the air for longer periods, has also worsened air pollution in the provinces, said Mr Chettha.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul met authorities in Chiang Mai yesterday to discuss anti-haze measures.

Chiang Rai’s disaster mitigation office has sprayed water into the air to increase humidity and lower dust levels. The office also distributed face masks to people in residential areas.

Phayao governor Maitree Inthusut has led the province’s campaign against weed burning by farmers.

The province has encouraged farmers to plough their land to root out weeds instead of burning them to prepare the land for new crops.

In Nan, Muang district municipality deployed fire trucks to spray water around the municipal area.

The level of fine dust in the province yesterday was about 152 ug/cu m, which is above the safe level.

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