Civil groups call on public to support clean air bill
Civil society groups have appealed to the public to back a clean air bill, saying it needs at least 10,000 signatures before the draft can be submitted for parliamentary readings.
They insisted House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has already assured them the bill meets law-making procedures.
Weenarin Lulitanonda, co-founder of the Thailand Clean Air Network, said the network and its alliances will launch a public campaign to have the right to breathe clean air to raise awareness that air pollution is a vital issue for all people.
"We don't want only their names," she said. "We want to educate them that the issue is very important to their lives.
"We hope to get cooperation from the public.
"The air is unhealthy. We need action to make it better."
The Thailand Clean Air Network and its alliances finished drafting 124 sections of the clean air bill, which the House Speaker last month agreed could be processed to become law if there are at least 10,000 signatures to support it, which is required by the current constitution.
If successful, the bill will be later forwarded for parliamentary readings, the group said.
The bill will give local administrative organisations the right to manage and deal with air pollution.
Meanwhile, a clean air fund will be established to support activities such as coverage of expenditure to file cases with the courts, fund research and development, and other local activities to promote clean air.
A clean air regulator will be also set up to facilitate the requirements of the bill.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Thailand director Tara Buakamsri said Greenpeace fully supported the bill because the country lacked effective laws to deal with air pollution.
He said measures to deal with the problem have been proposed by many related state agencies such as the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
"We have seen a major lack of law enforcement to make the air clean," he said. "That is the reason the problem has never been solved in a sustainable way."
However, he voiced his concern that it needs strong mechanisms to translate the bill into law. He raised a case of a public-led forest community bill that took more than 30 years to become law, and another bill regarding electronic waste management that had been drafted for more than 10 years but never went anywhere.
Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, an activist in the North, said he threw his full support behind the clean air bill.