Chiang Mai: The Administrative Court on Monday ruled that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Environmental Board (NEB) had neglected their duties in tackling toxic air pollutants in the province, in a case brought forth by a local resident.
Wasuchart Pichai had petitioned that he was affected by the haze problem and claimed that Gen Prayut and the NEB had failed to address ultra-fine dust or PM2.5 pollutants.
In it, he asked the court to order Gen Prayut to take action, including ordering cloud-seeding operations to improve the air quality. He also called for the entire province to be declared a disaster zone so the authorities could disburse funds to mitigate the pollution's impact.
At the hearing, the court heard from agencies concerned and expert witnesses, including the dean of Chiang Mai University's Faculty of Medicine, the director of the National Health Security Office Zone 1 and the director of Maharat Nakhon Chiang Mai Hospital.
The court said that based on the testimonies of witnesses, fine dust pollution had worsened every year and negatively affected the health of people both in the short and long term. It found that the defendants had neglected their duties in resolving the problem under the law.
The court then ordered the defendants to exercise their power under the law on the prevention and mitigation of disasters, the law on the enhancement and conservation of national environmental quality and others to better regulate and manage air pollution in the province.
In April, about 1,700 residents in the province also filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court against Gen Prayut and related state agencies over their alleged failure to resolve the haze issue in the North.
The residents claimed that people living in urban areas were at risk of being exposed to unsafe levels of ultra-fine dust particles, which could shorten lifespans by up to five years due to prolonged exposure.