Thailand monitors haze situation in South, carries issue to ASEAN

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BANGKOK, June 25 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday instructed her foreign minister to discuss with ASEAN counterparts to respond to the Indonesian haze crisis which is now expanding to several member countries.

Deputy Premier Plodprasop Suraswadi said the prime minister expressed her concern at today’s cabinet meeting as heavy haze from Indonesia, already over Singapore and Malaysia, has now spread across Thailand’s southern provinces, threatening the quality of life of local residents.

Mr Plodprasob said he has instructed the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) to use satellite photography to monitor the spread of the haze, while the defence ministry will also deploy helicopters to capture more pictures.

He said the Pollution Control Department and related agencies will report the haze situation daily to the Water and Flood Management Commission, while the government will continue to inform the public of the density of the smog.

The health ministry has been ordered to stand ready for medical treatment and schools are allowed to close if the airborne dust particles exceed safety standards.

Mr Plodprasop said the Indonesian smog–seasonal atmospheric pollution caused by large-scale rice field and forest burning–has reached Songkhla’s Hat Yai district, with the dust particles measured at 90 microgrammes per cubic metres.

He expressed hope that if it is not too windy in the South and rain persists, the haze will not move further to other provinces north of Songkhla.

The deputy premier said Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul will raise the issue for discussion at the ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Brunei later this month to help Indonesia solve the problem.