Thailand and Cambodia join forces to tackle transboundary haze pollution

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin yesterday unveiled plans to form a joint task force with Cambodia to combat transboundary haze pollution. The decision was made ahead of a scheduled meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet set to take place in Thailand on February 7.

The leaders will undertake a joint study tour to Sa Kaeo province, an area severely impacted by PM2.5 transboundary pollution. The pollution in Thailand’s border provinces, typically caused by wildfires, necessitates coordination with neighbouring countries for effective management, Thavisin explained.

Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) will provide satellite images to aid the task force’s response planning for hotspots created by wildfires. The continuous exchange of information between Thailand and Cambodia via the future joint task force will be a critical factor in the countries’ collective efforts to combat transboundary haze pollution.

PM Srettha emphasised the government’s focus on the right to clean air, alongside tourism-based economic stimulation. In line with this commitment, the Clean Air Bill has been introduced to Parliament.

Currently, seven versions of the bill, proposed by various civic groups and political parties, await a vote in the bill’s first reading in the House of Representatives, which is anticipated to occur next week. The Clean Air bill, treated as an urgent matter, was discussed in the House on Thursday. However, an extended debate meant the first reading’s vote has been postponed to next week.

Deputy Prime Minister and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Phatcharavat Wongsuwan described the bill’s objective as equipping organisations at both national and area levels with enhanced administrative tools to prevent hazardous PM2.5 dust particles, fumes, and other pollutants from being released into the air.

In addition to this, the bill will implement several other mechanisms to tackle haze pollution. These include increased international cooperation to reduce biomass burning in the agricultural sector, the reduction of traffic emissions, and improved integration among all concerned state agencies, reported Bangkok Post.

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Sugandhi Batra

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