BANGKOK: In a bid to prevent the spread of wildfires and haze in the country, the Thai government has imposed a three-month no-burning rule across all localities.
The rule, which kicked in on Feb 1, will be in effect until the end of April.
In a statement on Wednesday (Feb 15), Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister and Acting Government Spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha has ordered all of the concerned agencies to discuss and come up with responses and preventive measures to curb the spread of wildfire.
“They are instructed to conduct after action review on the wildfire situation … to prevent the damage of wildfire spread to the environment, agricultural areas and people’s properties as well as to curb the rise of PM2.5 particulates in the air,” said Mr Anucha.
PM2.5 refers to fine particulate matter that is an air pollutant. It is a concern for people’s health when levels of it in the air are high. They can penetrate deep inside the lungs, where they either remain for long periods or pass into the bloodstream unfiltered.
Mr Anucha on Wednesday said that Mr Prayuth has been monitoring the haze and wildfire situation in the country with great concern.
“The Prime Minister ordered for the implementation of any measure possible to keep wildfires under control, and seek cooperation from all concerned localities to observe … no-burning rule from Feb 1 to Apr 30.
“Those who violate the rule will be penalised,” said Mr Anucha.
He added that adjustments will be made if the situation worsens, though he did not elaborate on the measures in the statement.
According to the Pollution Control Department, the northern region of Thailand is expected to experience unhealthy air pollution levels and will remain under close surveillance until the end of the week.
Local media has also reported that authorities have closed eight national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in 17 northern provinces to control an increasing number of forest fires there.
Earlier this month, Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt warned the public of unhealthy air in the capital, urging people to monitor their health and reduce outdoor activities if they experience difficulty breathing, eye irritation or coughing.