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Breathing Victory: PM Srettha Thavisin’s 90-Day Challenge to Clear Chiang Mai’s Air

Picture this: amidst the hustle and bustle of Phahon Yothin Road, a vehicle stands out—not for its shiny rims or flashy decals, but for the ominous plumes of black smoke it belches into the atmosphere. This isn’t the latest fashion statement in car aesthetics, but a pressing environmental faux pas captured in a snapshot on January 19th, aptly chronicling the struggle against air pollution. (Cue: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill’s compelling photo documentation of the event.)

The plot thickens, as our protagonist, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, steps into the limelight on a balmy Sunday, bearing big news and even bigger responsibilities. The hero’s quest? A formidable challenge issued by none other than the Chiang Mai Administrative Court: devise a master plan to vanquish the menacing specter of PM2.5 fine dust—within a mere ninety days!

Not one to shy away from daunting tasks, Mr. Srettha accepts the court’s gauntlet with a mix of zeal and practicality. An unlikely coalition of officials is being summoned from the four corners of the land, embarking on a mission to brainstorm and enact the ultimatum set forth by the court. The stakes? The breathability of Thai air and the wellbeing of its people.

Meanwhile, chatter among the common folk and the local scribes suggests that Mr. Srettha is not alone in his crusade. “We’ve witnessed a union of agencies across the kingdom, rallying to suppress the dusty dragon,” Mr. Srettha remarks with cautious optimism. “With our collective efforts, we’ve seen the PM2.5 foe retreat, its venom reduced by a factor of four to five times.”

Mr. Chai Wacharonke, a government mouthpiece and connoisseur of air quality updates, echoes the sentiment. Amidst his flurry of statistics, he offers a breath of fresh air: Chiang Mai’s tambon Chang Phueak reports a PM2.5 reading that would barely make a spectrometer squint—a paltry 16.7 microgrammes per cubic metre. This feat dwarfs the haunting memory of a past not so distant, when numbers thrice as high jangled the nerves of the environmentally conscious.

“This downturn in dusty doldrums mirrors the commitment of our premier, steadfast in his pursuit of one’s undeniable right to inhale purity,” proclaims Mr. Chai. “And let it be known, this government is not one for idle hands when the air itself cries out for justice!”

Meanwhile, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, armed with the high-tech Check Foon app, stands vigilant. The app’s readings, updated with the regularity of a clock’s ticks, have raised the flag in no less than seven provinces where air particles have thrown a bash well above the threshold of propriety.

Sing Buri is abuzz with a PM2.5 level that will have you double-checking your masks—94.7 microgrammes are not for the faint of lungs. It’s a similar tale across the board from Ang Thong to Chai Nat—numbers soaring higher than kites in a monsoon sky. And let’s not forget Bangkok; even the City of Angels isn’t immune, with 45 districts in a high-stake tango with fine dust, and Nong Khaem pirouetting to an eyebrow-raising 77.2µg/m³.

Enter Deputy Prime Minister Pol Gen Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, the no-nonsense pollution police, downing his gavel with a decree to tighten the noose on black smoke’s neck. Under his watchful eye, the Pollution Control Department officials are teaming up with state agencies, steadfast in their resolve to cleanse the streets and the air of the capital. It’s a crackdown on emissions so fierce, you could almost see the particles packing their bags.

And so, the saga continues. In a land where the air is as much a treasure as the golden spires of its temples, the fight for purity persists. As the clock ticks down on the ninety-day challenge, will our protagonists emerge victorious? Will the air dance again, light and unburdened? Only time, and these spirited measures, will tell.

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