Chiang Mai Residents Sue Thai PM for Worsening Air Pollution

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Chiang Mai Residents Take Legal Action Against PM Amidst Thick Fog
Residents in the north are advised to stay inside air-conditioned buildings and avoid outdoor activities as some areas of Chiang Mai recorded levels of PM2.5. ( Photo : The Nation )

On Tuesday, 1,700 people in Chiang Mai filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and two state agencies for failing to use their authority to tackle the toxic haze problem in the province.

About 60 people visited the Administrative Court in Chiang Mai to file a lawsuit against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the National Environment Board, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Between 7-9 April, 727 people signed their names in support of the lawsuit at Chiang Mai University, while 980 people signed it online.

The plaintiffs blamed contract farming for the devastating air pollution happening in the country, and claim that the pollution is shortening their life span by 4-5 years.

The plaintiffs accused the prime minister of failing to exercise his authority under the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environment Quality Act to solve the ongoing issue.

As for the National Environment Board, they are being accused of failing to effectively implement the national plan to tackle particulate matter (PM) pollution introduced in 2019. 

Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission was pulled up failing to examine the source of the ultrafine dust pollution within the supply chain of major listed companies to help solve the problem, reports Bangkok Post.

Dr. Rangsit Kanchanawanit from the faculty of medicine at Chiang Mai University said the level of pollution in Chiang Mai, which was deemed the most polluted city in the world last week, has raised the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and strokes among its population. 

He said, ”We want to see the government change its policies, to show a strong political will and not just be considerate towards capitalist groups. This could save millions of people from illness.”

“The root cause is burning, both in forests and on maize plantations… Political parties and the new government must prioritize this issue and have effective solutions,” added Chatchawal Thongdeelert of the Breath Council.

He also pointed out that both short and long-term solutions need to be implemented to reduce air pollution, as the problem keeps on getting worse every year.

Just this year alone, around 1.3 million patients have suffered from air-pollution-related diseases in Nan, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Phayao, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Tak, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Nonthaburi, and all 50 districts of Bangkok.