Mar 08 2012
Having been further out and about today we have to state with all honesty that the haze situation is worse than we thought and worse than we may have made it appear in our recent post — and we’re certainly not going to be going out and about anymore in the near future unless we can avoid it. Visibility in downtown Chiang Mai today was down to a kilometre and we hear it is worse in Chiang Rai. And Thai meteorological services now admit that dust particles in the air in some areas of the north (such as Mae Sai, Chiang Rai and Lampang) are over twice the Pollution Control Department’s acceptable levels.
After yesterday trying to blame slash and burn farmers in Burma and Laos, the Natural Resources and Environment Department admitted it was 99% due to farmers burning stubble and forest clearance by agro-business and have promised radical steps to solve the problem. (Note that this is from the government whose health minister recently blamed the rise in dengue fever cases to the increase in Thai women wearing hotpants and thus making easier targets for mosquitoes. It’s also the government that just received stinging criticism for failing to act after last year’s floods devastated much of the nation.)
Anyway said radical steps involve the really radical action of actually enforcing the existing non-burning and non-forest encroachment laws! How did they think of that? Anyway upon stating their intent to apply existing environmental protection laws, ones that they presumably thought up in the first place, the Ministry for the Environment have confidently claimed all haze problems should be over within a week. (We’re not making this up!)
Unless you are particular fans of sore throats, stinging eyes and respiratory illnesses we do advise against any unnecessary travel to the following provinces for at least the immediate future: Mae Hong Son, Tak, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao, Phrae, Nan, Lampang, Lamphun and Uttaradit. Watch this space and we’ll watch the wastes of space down in government house.
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