Chiang Mai court rejects plea against Prayut over PM2.5 situation

BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The Chiang Mai Administrative Court on Thursday (March 30) rejected a lawsuit against Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-O-Cha (pic) by a group of Chiang Mai people seeking a court order to declare PM2.5 in the northern province a national disaster.

The court ruled that the situation did not warrant such a declaration and the concerned government agencies were already implementing measures to deal with the situation.

Several northern provinces have been choked with fumes from forest fires and the burning of weeds or plants after harvests both in Thailand and neighbouring countries.

The fumes have contributed to a rise in particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter above the safe threshold.

The lawsuit pleaded for a court order that would force the prime minister to invoke Article 31 of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act, ordering government agencies to take urgent action to solve the PM2.5 situation and to provide emergency health to the people.

The court said the Cabinet had already instructed government agencies to carry out actions in accordance with the special plan of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to deal with dust pollution.

The court noted that the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department has been implementing a plan to tackle the PM2.5 situation.

The court also noted that the Public Health Ministry had been implementing three major measures to monitor the people’s health against impact from the PM2.5 pollution.

The Public Health Ministry has opened emergency medical and public health operation centres in Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, and in Public Health Region 1 and Public Health Region 2, the court said. The ministry also opened pollution clinics at the Nakhon Sawan Hospital, Kamphaeng Phet Hospital and Phichit Hospital.

The court said the ongoing measures were enough to deal with the current situation, and it was still within the power of state agencies to deal with it.

The court said if the situation worsened and the PM2.5 level went up, and it was beyond the ability of the government agencies to deal with the situation, the director of the national disaster centre would propose to the prime minister to declare the situation a national disaster.

The court ruled that the PM2.5 situation in the North during January and February was not serious enough to be declared a national disaster and the prime minister had not been negligent in discharging his duties as accused by the plaintiffs.

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Thailand , Chiang Mai , pollution , Prayut , court


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