In a recent lawsuit, concerned citizens have held the prime minister, the National Environment Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Thai Capital Market Supervisory Board responsible for the alarming rise in PM2.5 pollution levels in 17 northern provinces over the past two months. The plaintiffs claim that the prime minister and these agencies have been negligent in addressing the issue and have called for their “right to clean air”.
PM2.5, also known as fine dust with a size less than 2.5 microns in diameter, has been recorded at levels exceeding safety thresholds, posing significant health risks to local residents. Chiang Mai and other northern cities have experienced numerous episodes of dangerous PM2.5 spikes, placing them among the world’s top 10 cities with the most hazardous dust pollution levels.
The predominant cause of PM2.5 pollution has been attributed to local farmers’ practice of burning farm waste, both in Thailand and its neighboring countries. In Thailand, the majority of these “hot spots” for burning have been detected in the northern regions.
On Friday, the court accepted the case against the prime minister and the National Environment Board, while dismissing the cases against the other two agencies. The plaintiffs have demanded that the prime minister exercise his power under Article 9 of the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act to alleviate the PM2.5 crisis.
Furthermore, the lawsuit calls for the National Environment Board to enforce the national plan to combat dust pollution, which was announced by the government in 2019. Strict implementation of this plan is crucial in ensuring air quality improvements for the affected regions and safeguarding the health of their residents.
It is evident that the situation requires urgent attention and immediate action. The rising PM2.5 levels not only put the citizens’ health at risk but also tarnish the country’s image on the global stage. It is essential for the government and related agencies to address this pressing matter and devise effective strategies to control and mitigate the detrimental impact of farm waste burning practices. By doing so, they can preserve both the environment and the well-being of the inhabitants in the affected provinces.
Though the court has taken a significant step in holding certain parties responsible, it remains to be seen whether this legal action will be sufficient in bringing about the necessary change to combat the relentless PM2.5 pollution plaguing the northern provinces of Thailand. Only time will show if the government and the National Environment Board will step up their efforts and take decisive action to ensure the right to clean air for all citizens.