Thailand — Thailands Science and Technology Minister Woravat Auapinyakul yesterday announced the plan to integrate activities and communication technology to fight against forest fires affecting the Northern areas of Thailand.
We will use unmanned aerial vehicles, satellite images, Skype and smartphones for reporting fires, coordinating efforts to extinguish them and facilitating rehabilitation, he said during his trip to the northern province to monitor the haze crisis and to launch the public campaign
Recently, smog has spread widely over Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son causing many residents in the affected areas to wear face masks and sunglasses to protect their eyes and noses.
The Ministry of Science and Technology already assigned Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency to explore technical solutions to solve the problem that is disrupting transportation and deterring tourism in the North.
Auapinyakul added that air pollution from fires could seriously harm children whose lungs would not grow properly.
As part of dealing with forest fires, the ministry has launched the pilot phase of the Hunt the Smog project to reward anyone who takes a photo of a forest fire and sent it to the authorities.
A reward of THB 500 (US$ 16.95) in cash will be given away to anyone who submit the picture. If the picture leads to the arrest of arsonists, the reward will jump to THB 5,000 (US$ 169.49). If it is among the first 10 submissions, the reward will double to THB 10,000 (US$ 339).
He added that the authorities found that most forest fires have been started by people.
We will take tough action against those lighting fires in forest zones to clear land for farming. Fires cause smog, which endangers the health of others, the minister said.
Violators will face a fine of up to THB 50,000 (US$ 1695) and up to six years in jail.