The year 2012 has been particularly bad for extreme levels of air pollution due to burning of the countryside in Northern Thailand.
So what has been the response of authorities this year? Apart from a few large billboards featuring a picture of the Prime Minister with large writ words STOP BURNING and a picture of skyscrapers in the background, (was this meant to refer to the events at Ratchaprasong in April 2010?) Very little it appears.
Yet scars of the years fires remain visible on the ground, if not in people’s lungs, as this picture of young Dipterocarpus turbinatus (ยางแดง) trees killed at the Mok Fah Waterfall in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park show. One wonders what the park staff were doing to allow a fire to burn on both sides of a walking path, a perfect fire break, where control should have been easy?
I would like to suggest a timetable for implementation of a nation wide no burning program along the following lines be put as a proposal to the government without delay:
1. July 1st: The Prime Minister delivers a special address to the people announcing:
a) The intention to outlaw all burning of forest, government, waste and farming lands from 1st September 2012;
b) Establishment of a commission to provide public information on burning and to oversee a process of consultation;
c) 15th-28th July A national consultation whereby all rural communities identify how a cessation of burning may affect legitimate economic activities and what kinds of assistance may be required to support the local economy;
d) 15th-28th July A national consultation for urban communities which are asked to pair with rural communities to support a transition to end burning;
e) 30th July-18th August the commission collates results of the national consultations with recommendations for government action;
f) 15th-24th November Fire hazard reduction and Fire suppression training for all government officers & staff involved in rural travel;
(Note: dates below apply to the north & northeast. Different dates may apply elsewhere)
g) 25th November Provide rudimentary fire suppression equipment for all vehicles used in government rural travel and require all government officers to carry out primary fire suppression when a fire is encountered;
h) 1-8th December To coincide with Father’s Day and Thai Environment week declare this to be Fire hazard reduction week to mobilize communities to remove long grass and genuine weeds along roadsides, in forested areas and other places vunerable to wild fire.
i) Commencing from 7th January 2013 with most activity during the school holiday period in March & April – The Nationwide Student farming camps whereby secondary and tertiary students assist with crop planting preparation.
More points will need to be added related to proclamation of laws and regulations and for budget provisions.
What do you think ? What points do you suggest the PM make in her speech?