Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is checking out forest fire suppression efforts in Lampang's Wang Nuea District.

Yesterday, Srettha said the government would not declare Chiang Mai a natural disaster zone due to the toxic dust

Mar 18, 2024 - 12:26
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Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is checking out forest fire suppression efforts in Lampang's Wang Nuea District.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is checking out forest fire suppression efforts in Lampang's Wang Nuea District. 

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is checking out forest fire suppression efforts in Lampang's Wang Nuea District. 

Yesterday, Srettha said the government would not declare Chiang Mai a natural disaster zone due to the toxic dust crisis, as the negative consequences would outweigh the benefits, particularly impacting tourism.

His comment was supported by Panlop Saejiw, chairperson of the Chiang Mai Tourism Industry Council, who echoed the PM's concerns. He said the air pollution is detrimental to people's health, but if the province is declared a natural disaster zone, the number of visitors via direct flights will surely decrease, which will hurt people's income as well. Between March 1 and 16, more than 52,000 passengers flew directly to Chiang Mai, with 11,729 from China, 11,728 from South Korea, 7,221 from other provinces in Thailand, 6,898 from Taiwan, and 2,090 from Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment stated that they were allocated more than 382.6 million baht from the central emergency budget within the fiscal 2024 budget to tackle forest fires and air pollution problems, including 109.9 million baht for the Royal Forest Department and 272.7 million baht for the Department of National Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation. Srettha mentioned over the weekend that these budgets can now be disbursed.

The ministry is currently recruiting more firefighters and volunteers to help suppress forest fires in 17 provinces in the north and Kanchanaburi, including 10 national forest reserves and 11 protected forests.

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