Plan dusted off as North suffers

Plan dusted off as North suffers

Students assemble fine-dust detectors to be distributed to schools affected by PM2.5 air pollution, during a workshop at the Engineering Institute of Thailand in Bangkok. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Students assemble fine-dust detectors to be distributed to schools affected by PM2.5 air pollution, during a workshop at the Engineering Institute of Thailand in Bangkok. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Governors in all 77 provinces have been told to adopt the 2015 disaster prevention and mitigation master plan to address the PM2.5 air pollution crisis.

The decision was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday after being proposed by Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda. He said the 133-page master plan contains guidelines for action on four fronts: risk reduction, emergency response, international cooperation and restoration.

"The situation in each region varies, so governors are allowed to adjust the action plan to suit their local situation," Gen Anupong told media on Tuesday.

The move comes after air pollution in four northern provinces soared this week following seasonal fires set by farmers to clear their land.

Levels of PM2.5 pollution have exceeded the government's safe threshold of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³) in Lampang, Nan, Phayao and Phrae provinces. The real-time PM2.5 level surged to over 400µg/m³ in parts of Phrae and Chiang Mai provinces on Monday. Muang districts in neighbouring provinces were also hit hard. Phrae saw 146µg/m³ in tambon Na Chak, Nan recorded 111µg/m³ in tambon Nai Wiang, Phayao saw 103µg/m³ in tambon Ban Tom, while Nan had 67µg/m³ in tambon Huai Kone of Chalerm Prakiat district.

Meanwhile the 24-hour average in tambon Ban Dong of Lampang's Mae Mo district soared to 189µg/m³ on Tuesday, according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD). The PCD also reported PM2.5 levels were building again in greater Bangkok after a few days of respite, though they remained below the safe threshold at 16-41 µg/m³ as of Tuesday morning.

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered officials to "enforce stringent legal actions" against people burning outdoor fires, his spokesman said.


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