Network urges PM to endorse stalled clean air bill

Network urges PM to endorse stalled clean air bill

Bus inspections to help reduce city pollution

Smoke fills the air over Nonthaburi as a farmer burns off straw waste left from the rice harvest, in April. (Photo: Pattarapong  Chatpattarasill)
Smoke fills the air over Nonthaburi as a farmer burns off straw waste left from the rice harvest, in April. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

An environmental advocacy network is pressing Prime Minister Srettha Thaivisin to endorse a clean air bill it proposed to parliament a year ago but which remains mired in the legislative process.

Twenty representatives of the Thailand Clean Air Network (Thai CAN) and State Enterprise Workers  Relations Confederation submitted their request at the government complaints centre in Bangkok on Monday.

The letter asked the prime minister to quickly endorse their proposed legislation for the comprehensive management of clean air. The letter was received by Pansak Charoen, a specialist at the PM's Office. The prime minister is overseas.

Kanengnit Sribua-iam said it came to the network's attention that at least four similar bills had been proposed or were in the process of being proposed to parliament. They were sponsored by the Strategic Transformation Office, the ruling Pheu Thai Party, the Bhumjaithai Party, the Democrat Party and the Move Forward Party.

She said the Thai CAN bill was initiated through a mass petition of people directly affected by air pollution and was slated for tabling in the parliament and later deliberation by the previous Prayut Chan-o-cha administration.

However, during vetting the Thai CAN bill was determined to be financial legislation. This means it must go to the prime minister for endorsement before it can be put to lawmakers, who would decide whether to accept it for debate.

Ms Kaneungnit said the bill had already been held up for more than a year, and it was time the prime minister gave it the go-ahead.

The Thai CAN bill sought to introduce unique and effective ways of tackling air pollution, and differed in essence from the other bills competing for parliament approval.

- Bus pollution -

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) is ramping up its inspection of public buses running on diesel fuel and cleaning up bus depots ahead of the cool season, when air pollution increases in and around Bangkok.

The BMTA currently operates 2,075 diesel buses, air-conditioned and non-airconditioned.  

Before being dispatched from the terminal, their exhaust emission levels will be checked. If the emissions are too high, the bus will be sent back for maintenance. 

At the same time, the Department of Land Transport and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will begin exhaust fumes inspection of public buses parked at 27 depots across the city.

The depots themselves will be ordered to clean up once or twice a week, at the least, to help reduce the amount of fine dust pollution in the air, according to the BMTA.

The BMTA also plans to acquire an additional 2,013 electric buses, subject to approval from the new executive board to be elected early next year.

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