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Chiang Mai residents sue Prayut over haze

CHIANG MAI: About 1,700 residents of Chiang Mai province yesterday (Apr 10) filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and two state agencies over their failure to resolve the recurring haze in the North, which they claim is shortening their lives by five years.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 11 April 2023, 08:51AM

Toxic haze obscures the Doi Suthep mountain range in Muang district of Chiang Mai yesterday (Apr 10). Photo: Dave Kendall / Bangkok Post

Toxic haze obscures the Doi Suthep mountain range in Muang district of Chiang Mai yesterday (Apr 10). Photo: Dave Kendall / Bangkok Post

Around 60 people representing the plaintiffs appeared at the Administrative Court yesterday to file the lawsuit, which accused Gen Prayut, along with the National Environmental Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission of failing to act to reform contract farming which has been going on for years, reports the Bangkok Post.

The representatives, who include activists, local residents, as well as academics from Chiang Mai University and other experts, said 727 people signed the petition backing the lawsuit over the weekend at Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law, while 980 signed up online.

One of the plaintiffs, Sumitchai Hatthasan, director of the Centre for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights, said the prime minister failed to exercise his power under the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act to solve the problem.

The plaintiffs also accused the National Environmental Board of failing to effectively implement the national plan to tackle particulate matter pollution introduced in 2019.

In addition, they said, the Securities and Exchange Commission should be held responsible for failing to examine the sources of ultrafine dust pollution within the supply chains of major listed companies to help solve the problem.

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Dr Rangsarit Kanchanawanit, from Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine, said the health of people living in urban areas is at risk from being exposed to unsafe levels of fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometres in diameter or less (PM2.5) all year long. Repeated and sustained exposure to PM2.5 pollutants raise the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and strokes, in addition to shortening people’s lifespan by up to five years.

“We want to see the government change its policies to show strong political will and not just be considerate towards corporations. This could save millions of people from illnesses,” he said.

Chatchawal Thongdeelert of the Breath Council said the PM2.5 problem is only worsening with each passing year, so the government needs to implement both short- and long-term solutions to reduce air pollution.

“The root cause is burning, both in forests and on maize plantations... Political parties and the new government must prioritise this issue and implement effective solutions,” he said.

Hazardous levels of airborne pollutants were again reported across Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son and Nan, with the worst reported in Pai district of Mae Hong Son, the Pollution Control Department reported yesterday.

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Kurt | 11 April 2023 - 10:00:27

Just the idea, that Thailand recognise twice a year a period they call,... 7 days of danger...  Think about it. And it continues, year in, year out. It shows and prove something about how Officialdom NOT handles matters.

Kurt | 11 April 2023 - 09:09:35

Living at world's most polluted area on earth, ChiangMai province, must be very traumatic, knowing the yearly air pollution will shorten your life, beside immidiate illness that fills up hospitals. Guess many of them come down to Phuket with Songkran to recuperate a few days to find some relief.


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