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Thai government scraps Mekong blasting project

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai government scraps Mekong blasting project | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A fisherman on the Mekong river bank outside Nong Khai - Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters
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The government has officially abandoned a controversial plan to blast rapids on the Mekong river in Chiang Mai province. The Chinese-led dredging and blasting plan, initiated in 2001, met with fierce opposition from locals and environmental groups, and the Cabinet agreed to scrap it at a weekly meeting on Tuesday.

The plan was to enable ships to carry goods from China’s landlocked southern Yunnan province to ports in Thailand and Laos. It was highly opposed by conservationists and communities living along the river, who feared it would harm the environment and only benefit China. A deputy government spokewoman told Reuters:

“The communities affected and non-profit groups were against the plan. Above all fearing it would affect the way of life, and China also had no funding for it … so we ended the project. It didn’t take off yet. We were only doing environmental and social impact assessments”

The Chinese embassy in Bangkok was not available for comment.

A Thai cabinet document said that China had informed involved countries last year that it would not pursue the project, but work had continued along stretches of the river in Laos and Myanmar.

“China’s mistreatment of the Mekong, and its control of upstream water supplies, already shows the problem. Treating the mother of rivers like an international canal is no way to conserve and protect the environment, fishing and Thai people’s traditional lifestyle.”

China’s dams on the Mekong have also become controversial, especially since China revealed it was testing equipment in the river’s upper reaches. Thai farmers say they have collapsed fish stocks.

Thai government scraps Mekong blasting project | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

The Mekong is the world’s 12th longest river. It stretches 4,350 kilometres from China, where it’s known as the Lancang river, through five southeast Asian countries, to Vietnam in the south. It hosts at least 270 species of fish.

SOURCE: Reuters

 

 

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Air Pollution

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province

The Thaiger

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Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Downtown Chiang Mai this morning. Where's the blue sky gone? - Neo

It’s smoggy, smokey and generally unpleasant in northern Thailand today. But don’t take our word for it, look up to the skies around Chiang Mai or check the copious amounts of graphic evidence, freely available, about the seriousness of the fires, almost all deliberately lit, around the region.

“It’s been bad all morning and there’s a noticeable smell of smoke in the air now. I am sure it is not good for us”

The manager of a flower shop contacted The Thaiger and sent us a few photos of the Chiang Mai skies.

“We are used to seeing people walk around with face masks because of the coronavirus threat but now most of us are worried about the air pollution.”

Plantation burn-offs are a seasonal problem where the owners of rice and sugarcane crops, and other crops, burn the residual foliage and plants in preparation for the next crop. It’s the cheapest option for farmers. Despite threats and government policy, little is preventing the practice from continuing.

Read our editorial about the ‘smoke screen’ surrounding the fires and the air pollution problem HERE.

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Global Forest Watch

Whilst the air visual air pollution mapping officially registers Chiang Mai’s air quality at 178 this morning (that’s 178 particles of 2.5micron particulate per cubic metre), there are parts of the province registering way up into the 200s today, officially ‘Very Unhealthy’. Indeed Chiang Mai is today’s 9th most polluted city in the world, in the same company as cities like Dhaka, Delhi, Kathmandu and Mumbai.

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | News by The Thaiger

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Air Visual

Read more about the seriousness of Chiang Mai’s choking smoke today HERE.

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Chiang Mai

Thai Airways starts to trim back schedules due to loss of demand

The Thaiger

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Thai Airways starts to trim back schedules due to loss of demand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Airbus A380 landing - ttgasia.com

Thai Airways is cutting back services to South Korea and Singapore out of Bangkok due to “a dramatic fall in demand” and cancellations caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The vice president of sales at Thai Airways, Nond Kalinta, says the national carrier had adjusted flight schedules to match commercial demand. He confirmed the following changes.

• Flights reduce on the Bangkok-Seoul-Bangkok route from five to four daily February 26 to March 28.

• The airline will cancel flights on the Bangkok-Busan (South Korea)-Bangkok route on February 27 and March 5 & 6.

• Flights on the Bangkok-Singapore-Bangkok route will be cut from five to four flights daily from February 20 to March 27.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s major airlines are suspending some services to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The South Korean government issued a travel advisory that recommends Koreans should refrain from travelling to countries that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The travel advisory recommended travellers refrain from visiting Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Macau, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan.

Asiana Airlines suspended flights to Bangkok and Chiang Mai while Jeju Air and Korean Air halted services from Busan to Bangkok.

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Chiang Mai

Man claims he was attacked and robbed by “foreigners”

Greeley Pulitzer

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Man claims he was attacked and robbed by “foreigners” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twenty-four year old Theerapat Saen-in seen in hospital - Chiang Rai Times

A student in Chiang Mai says he was mugged by “foreigners from Europe.” Twenty-four year old Theerapat Saen-in posted his alleged ordeal on Thai social media earlier this week.

According to his post he was taking photographs at a view point on Doi Suthep when he was approached by “farangs.” He says they bashed him on the head with a piece of wood before being attacking him further.

Saen-in then allegedly fled into the woods, fearing the foreigners might chase him and continue their attack. In the process, he claims, he fell down an embankment, knocking himself unconscious.

When he regained consciousness he returned to the scene to find his camera equipment missing. His tripod, backpack and money had all been taken, local media reported.

He says he got help from other tourists in the area and was eventually taken to hospital in Chiang Mai. Doctors cared for his injuries, including six deep wounds to his head. Doctors said the head wounds were consistent with an attack with a solid object and confirmed to police that, based on the wounds, the man was assaulted.

Saen-in asks for cooperation from the public, especially in the event they notise anyone trying to sell or pawn camera equipment. He has also asked anyone with information to please contact police.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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