Agencies told to prepare for haze

Agencies told to prepare for haze

The Pollution Control Department has warned that seasonal haze in the southern portion of the kingdom is expected to be worse this year due to a drought in neighbouring countries, prompting the Environment Ministry to call on agencies to prepare measures to limit the damage.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), temperatures in the lower parts of the region are expected to rise from July to September, leading to a possibility of intense transboundary haze pollution in the South.

Various ministries, the armed forces and local government bodies attended a meeting with the department yesterday in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, where they discussed preliminary measures to prevent local and transboundary haze pollution.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-archa, who chaired the meeting yesterday, said the government is aware the haze caused by forest fires in Malaysia and Indonesia affect the kingdom’s southern region.

Mr Varawut said the Pollution Control Department will be the main agency to invoke the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and ask for cooperation from those countries to address the issue.

Last year, 82 cases of forest fires in the Kruan Kreng swamp in Nakhon Si Thammarat destroyed over 16,081 rai of forest in the area.

For 55 consecutive days, 10 million cubic metres of water have been pumped into the Kruan Kreng swamp to increase its water level, Mr Varawut said.

The move was initiated to help prevent forest fire in the area this year.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to increase patrols by rangers and set up early warning systems for forest fires.

“Effective synergy between local and national agencies is the main way to limit the impact of haze on our health and the environment,” Mr Varawut said. “We also need residents to cooperate and not set fire in the forest.”