Chiang Mai’s governor apologized to envoys from 11 foreign countries about the northern province’s abysmal air quality and laid out plans to do better in the upcoming burning season.
Gov. Charoenrit Sanguansat at city hall met Oct. 22 with a delegration of representatives from consulates and embassies led by Ben Robert Svati, Chiang Mai honorary consul for the United Kingdom.
Following the presentation, the diplomats gave their approval to the latest plan to prevent and control smoke and haze, including the dreaded “PM2.5” dust.
Before presenting results of a quality-of-life survey and the strategy for 2021, Charoenrit apologized to the diplomats, saying he understood that expats and tourists were uncomfortable with air pollution that ranked at times last year the worst in the world.
“We are making every effort to prevent and solve foreign fires, haze and PM2.5,” the governor said, referring to dust particles 2.5 microns or smaller.
Charoenrit said there is no blanket solution to solving the air pollution problem as the conditions and situation changes every year, but he is confident that 2021 will see improvements.
Chaing Mai Province’s plan targets a 25 percent decrease in PM2.5 dust and haze by establishing working groups for forest fire and smoke management at the district and sub-district levels, with provincial disaster prevention and mitigation, natural resources and environment officials monitoring forest areas inside and outside the Chiang Mai city limits.
Constant monitoring is to be employed to control hotspots and also ensure that burned forest areas are not co-opted by farmers.
District officials also were directed to stage activities such as a cycling campaigns to reduce vehicle use.
Speaking for the group, Svati said he was satisfied with the strategy for the upcoming burnings season and that the British consulate stands ready to assist if needed.
The original version of this story first appeared in the Chiang Mai Mail, a Bangkok Herald partner.