Dep. PM pledges to seriously tackle the annual air pollution

General Prawit Wongsuwon, deputy prime minister, visited Chiang Mai today.

Presiding over the Thai Planting Trees Together project, the general oversaw the handing over of saplings to various department heads. With the aim to promote the growth of high yield agriculture while also rejuvenating the forests, the general  says that 210 rai of land will be replanted near the Huay Tung Tao area.

The governor, the minister of natural resources and the environment as well as a photo-op of dignitaries turned up for the event.

General Prawit told reporters that the government aims to follow the edicts of Kings Rama IX and X who wished the natural resources of northern Thailand to remain healthy. The aim is to plan 100 million trees, according to www.forest.go.th

Following the ceremony, the group then held an After Action Review to discuss performance during this year’s burning season and prepare for how to tackle the problem next year. A conference has been held, from  19th – 21st May, helmed by Warawut Silpa-archa, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment to discuss and dissect this year’s pollution problems across the north.

It was agreed that the damage done this year has been unacceptable and it was decided that each factor involved in combatting this problem must focus all efforts to solving it and work closely with grassroots levels of organisations, especially villages. The government will support all initiatives to educate and help make people understand the dangers of the fire practices, said the minister.

General Prawit left the meeting with the following instructions:

  1. This is not just a seasonal problem, but a problem which must be addressed at all times. There needs to be a plan of action for the entire year and for many years to come to solve the problems sustainably and quickly. The Ministry of Natural Resources is tasked with overseeing the problem and allocating and coordinating with other departments as sees fit. On a provincial level, it is the governors who are in charge.
  2. Set up village fire units so that all villages will participate in the solution and the government will support all local initiatives with any resources required. Regular and continuous training and workshops are to be conducted with firefighting and forest protection units on the village level upwards.
  3. Modernise technology and fire-fighting equipment using only the best in management of all resources and personnel for the most effective outcome for citizens.
  4. Every sector is invited to come and help solve this problem with the governor of Chiang Mai being the main overseer supported by the ministries of interior, agriculture, natural resources and environment and any other departments.
  5. There needs to be a structured effort, with a plan and the ability to assess progress and measure goals attained.
  6. The government needs to communicate better with the public so that everyone has a full understanding of the seriousness of this situation and what their roles are in helping.
  7. Change the habits and practices of fire starters and people who poach and encroach on the forests, turning burners into caretakers. Help find other income streams and agriculture which is environmentally friendly. Instill a love of the forest and find pathways for those who protect the forests to earn a living.
  8. Work with other ASEAN nations to find a long term sustainable solution.