Thailand’s Ministry of Industry is seeking cooperation from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to curb the illegal burning of sugarcane in 15 provinces, which is contributing to the increasing air pollution.
According to the Industry Ministry, 29.81% of 15 million tonnes of the sugarcane crop were burned between December 1st and January 31st, which is equivalent to burning of 240,000 hectares of forest.
Panuwat Triyangkulsri, deputy permanent secretary of industry, said that the burning of sugarcane is the major generator of PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere in Bangkok and several other provinces.
Most illegal burning of sugarcane was reported in Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, Kalasin, Phetchabun, Khon Kaen, Suphan Buri, Uthai Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Kanchanaburi, Loei, Nong Bua Lamphu, Lop Buri, Sa Kaeo, Chaiyaphum and Mukdahan provinces.
He said that the illegal burning may negatively impact on the health of people, the environment and the tourism industry, especially during the tourism season.
Farmers burn sugarcane before harvest to get rid of leafs attached to the canes, to reduce transportation costs. Discarded leafs also pose a risk of accidental combustion and pose a problem in cane processing.
According to the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology and Development Agency (GISTDA), the Suomi NPP satellite detected 978 hotspots across Thailand, 2,955 hotspots in Myanmar, 769 in Cambodia, 668 in Laos, 187 in Vietnam and nine in Malaysia on Thursday.
Of the 978 hotspots detected in Thailand, 432 are located in conserved forests, 363 in national forest reserves, 74 in farm areas, 59 in land reform areas, 46 in communities and 4 along highways.
Provinces with the most hotspots are Chiang Mai (190), Tak (120) and Mae Hong Son (106). The northern region has the most hotspots compared to other regions.