LAMPHUN, Feb 17— The northern province of Lamphun, which was severely hit by ongoing drought, has declared five districts disaster zones as dust particle levels in Lampang and Phrae were higher than the safety threshold of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre.
The five districts in Lamphun designated as drought emergency disaster zones are Wiang Nong Long, Li, Pa Sang, Thung Hua Chang and Ban Thi.
Currently, the water level in the Ping River in Pa Sang and Wiang Nong Long districts was critically low, with sand dunes visible in sections of the river.
The drought has impacted some 40,600 villagers and affected 16,721 rai (some 6,610 acres) of farmlands such as paddy fields and longan orchards.
Regarding initial drought relief for affected residents, relevant agencies are speeding up providing of enough water for family consumption and agriculture as well as fixing wells.
Local authorities also surveyed drought-related damage for further assistance.
Regarding smog and haze blanketing the northern region, Lampang provincial natural resources and environment office and the disaster prevention and mitigation office reported that dust particle levels in Mae Mo district were measured at 139 microgrammes per cubic metre on Sunday while the levels in Phare’s provincial seat were recorded at 127 microgrammes per cubic metre.
The levels exceeded the safety limit of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre, meaning residents were exposed to health risks.
Monitoring the ongoing smog, the Pollution Control Department urged local officials to strictly control all open-air burning activities as they were the main cause of elevated dust particles in the air.
Suvit Kattiyavong, director of Regional Environmental Office 2 (Lampang), expressed concerns that if there is no rain or strict measures against open-air burning activities, the situation could worsen. (MCOT online news)