MAE HONG SON (NNT) – The forest fire and haze problems in the northern region are still of concern, with the situation in Mae Hong Son and Tak considered the most critical, with many agencies activating their plans to mitigate the situation.

510 forest fire hotspots were detected today in Mae Hong Son province, with 114 hotspots found in Mae Sariang district alone.

A bounty has been set by Mae Hong Son Provincial Governor Sithichai Jindaluang, for information leading to the arrest of people illegally setting fires in the forest, in addition to a ban on burn-offs effective from 8 to 14 March.

In Tak, the level of PM 2.5 airborne particulate matter has exceeded the standard level for several days, with a considerable number of hotspots detected.

Tak Provincial Governor Pongrat Piromrat has mobilized firefighters and volunteers to find and extinguish forest fires, as well as making an aerial inspection onboard a helicopter to see if the weather is suitable for a rainmaking operation that would help put out the fire.

In Chiang Mai, the Third Army Area’s patrol and fire fighting unit has continued to roam the forests in five districts of Chiang Mai together with villagers. They have put out forest fires as well as created firebreaks to mitigate the effects of fires that can ignite at anytime due to dry air.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment’s (MNRE) Permanent Secretary Jatuporn Buruspat, today held talks with delegates from related agencies including the Pollution Control Department’s (PCD) Director General Athapol Charoenshunsa, to monitor the haze and forest fire disasters in 17 northern provinces.

As reported in the meeting, several hotspots have been detected in reserves and national forests, while the haze has intensified from the smoke blown in from neighboring countries, with Mae Hong Son and Tak most critically affected by the destruction of forests.

The MNRE Permanent Secretary urged related agencies to enforce laws against those violating the regulations, and to ensure the availability of firefighting equipment in all areas, while the Pollution Control Department has been assigned to find a long-term solution with neighboring countries to prevent cross-border air pollution.

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