The air pollution in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai province has not reached a level that justifies the declaration of a disaster zone or the imposition of a curfew, according to Thailand’s Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda.
He warned that such tough measures may hurt the tourism industry and adversely affect a lot of people.
The business sector and civic societies in Mae Sai have urged the Chiang Rai provincial administration or the government to declare the district a public disaster zone, so resources can be mobilised to cope with the excessively high level of PM2.5 in the district’s atmosphere, mainly caused by forest fires, both local and in neighbouring countries.
Anupong also said that there are no clear criteria defined as to what level of PM2.5 would be considered enough to declare a disaster, adding that, in practice, it may be difficult to set such criteria because airborne dust does not remain static.
The minister said, however, that each provincial governor is authorised to enforce laws to deal with the dust problem, such as limiting the use of cars or tightening controls on emissions from factories.
He said that he has instructed all provinces which are experiencing air pollution to coordinate with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment over how to address the problem, as most of the forest fires are occurring in forest reserves.