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Campaigners demand Thailand act on air pollution

BANGKOK (AFP) – Campaigners yesterday demanded the Thai government urgently pass a “clean air act” as the kingdom braces for its annual peak pollution season.

The Thailand Clean Air Network (CAN), a group of academics and activists, submitted a proposed law to the government along with an open letter urging Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to act swiftly to ease the “pain and suffering inflicted on the Thai public”.

More than two million people sought medical treatment for problems linked to air pollution, according to the Health Ministry.

CAN warned in its letter to Srettha that “responsible government agencies are unable to effectively manage this problem”, pointing to a lack of coordination between ministries.

“There are no management systems in place to address this issue in a fully integrated manner, and as such, state agencies are continuously stuck in a vicious cycle, fixated in addressing only the repercussions of the problem,” the letter said. A draft clean air bill is expected to be put to Cabinet this month, but CAN warned that without Srettha’s endorsement, there was little chance of any proposal becoming law.

Emissions from industry, along with vehicle exhaust fumes and smoke from stubble burning by farmers, send air quality plummeting in Thailand every year.

The worst pollution period is usually from December to February – coinciding with the peak tourist season – but an unexpected spike in Bangkok last month brought hurried promises of action from officials.

Vehicles on a busy road amid high levels of air pollution in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: AFP
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