Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stepped in to combat the threat of Isan rockets and other airborne objects by ordering the enforcement of strict safety measures for their launch.
As chairman of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Gen Prayut exercised Section 44 of the interim constitution on Friday against illegal firing of bang fai, lanterns and other objects into the sky with stern warnings.
Would-be rocket men and women across the country have to seek permission from the district chief responsible for their area first, according to the order published in the Royal Gazette and released on Friday.
All provinces are also ordered to designate specific launch sites and also to enforce measures against gambling, which usually is a big part of the regional rocket festivals.
Violators will face fines of up to 60,000 baht and/or jail terms up to three years. The order took immediate effect after it was published.
The order was issued ahead of the bang fai season, a popular time for merit-making among people in the northeastern region to celebrate the arrival of the rainy season. They fire rockets to pay respect to Phaya Thaen so that they will have a good harvest season.
The most well-known bang fai event was held Yasothon last month but other provinces have scheduled celebrations this month, including one in Muang district of Nong Bua Lam Phu on Saturday and Phanom Phrai district in Roi Et from June 18-20.
The regulations published on Friday also apply to the deployment of large floating lanterns, a popular pastime that originated in northern Thailand and has spread to other provinces. The peak period for the lantern launches is at Loy Krathong, which usually falls in November.
However, both rocket and lantern launches potentially threaten the safety of airplanes as they could disrupt flight paths.
Last year, a total of 74 scheduled flights to and from Chiang Mai were cancelled during the three-day Loy Krathong festival in order to prevent any accidents involving lanterns. Another 41 flights were rescheduled.
Aerothai, the agency controlling traffic in Thai airspace, last year sought authority from the NCPO to enforce restrictions, including the height of rockets, to prevent them hitting aircraft.