Loei province cracks down on illegal burning to combat toxic smog

Picture courtesy of KhaoSod

The province of Loei issued a stern prohibition on illegal burning in a bid to mitigate the toxic smog crisis. The measure is a response to the yearly increase of forest and sugarcane farm fires, particularly between December and March, which significantly contribute to PM2.5 dust particles in the atmosphere. These particles cause environmental and public health issues, elevating the number of respiratory disease patients in hospitals.

Last year, Anutin Charnvirakul, the deputy prime minister and minister of public health, sent out a letter to provincial governors urging them to hunker down on air pollution. As part of these efforts, the Loei province has assembled a task force comprising local and national institutions to enforce laws and initiate preventative measures.

Loei’s Deputy Governor, Siriwat Pinijpanich, revealed that the province held meetings with relevant committees to prepare for the prevention of forest fires and haze next year. The local administrative organization, the National Office of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Forestry Department, among others, were asked to prepare for their area of responsibility. For instance, the local administrative organization was tasked with inspecting the readiness of manpower, tools, and equipment that would support firefighting efforts in case of wildland fires.

The local health office was to examine the use of drones to support ground operations, which is particularly useful when fires break out in elevated areas. The National Park Department was asked to create a plan in collaboration with the district’s office to prevent and suppress wildland fires, reported KhaoSod.

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In the event of a public health risk due to excessive dust particle levels, the local health office is to issue an advisory to the public on how to protect themselves and monitor daily dust particle levels. The local government, which inherited the responsibility of managing forest fires from the Forest Resource Office 6 Udon Thani, was to train volunteers in fire prevention.

As for the burning of sugarcane for factory delivery, the province has warned that it is an illegal act and a violation of the local administration law. If evidence of illegal sugarcane burning for factory delivery is found this year, the wrongdoers will face legal repercussions, including criminal charges.

The province has asked every district to prevent and suppress fires with the help of community leaders and locals. It has been communicated that any burning of forests and sugarcane, for factory delivery, could adversely affect the environment on a large scale and disrupt tourism, in addition to the legal consequences.

The province appeals to public consciousness to understand the wide-ranging impact of such activities and to help prevent them, as it could cause immense environmental damage, affect tourism, and potentially result in criminal charges.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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