PM orders government agencies to get tough on air pollution

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

As the air quality in Bangkok and surrounding provinces continues to deteriorate, the PM is ordering all relevant agencies to get tough on combatting the problem. Yesterday, Bangkok recorded the highest level of PM2.5 matter in the Din Daeng district of the capital, at 118mcg/cm. The level considered safe in Thailand is 50 mcg/cm, which is still higher than most countries (World Health Organisation lists the highest safe level as 25 mcg/cm). The Pollution Control Department says air quality in the surrounding provinces of Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Samut Sakhon and Pathum Thani, has also deteriorated.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is calling on commuters to choose public transport over driving, wherever possible, adding that the government may implement a program of alternate-day car use in the capital.

But these problems surface at the same time each year and the same requests for changing driving habits and PR stunts where the BMA and national government try localised gimmicks to tackle the problem. How about pollution-killing drones?

Addressing the issue of agricultural burning, one of the primary reasons behind the air pollution, the PM has acknowledged farmers don’t have the equipment needed to dispose of waste without burning. The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Varawut Silpa-archa, says he has asked the Agricultural and Cooperatives Ministry to ban burning in Bangkok and nearby areas for the next 3 days.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has asked the Interior Ministry to take action against farmers who engage in outdoor burning and to check emissions at industrial plants, in conjunction with the Industry Ministry. Prawit’s spokesman, Kongcheep Tantravanich, says police in Bangkok will be checking vehicles for black emissions.

According to a Bangkok Post report, governor Aswin Kwanmuang says the Highways Department has been asked to wash roads repeatedly, to try to reduce pollution and dust. In addition, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is regularly spraying water on tree leaves and on the roads, as well as cleaning public amenities such bus stops, pedestrian bridges and postboxes.

437 schools have been told to stop the practice of morning assembly outdoors, while construction firms are being asked to spray water into the air, in an attempt to stop dust spreading. Large construction projects have been temporarily halted, with the BMA only allowing work that doesn’t create dust, such as indoor painting.

BMA spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang is calling on all outdoor workers to wear masks, adding that the air pollution is likely to continue in Bangkok for the next 2 months.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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