Anger in Chiang Mai as air quality deteriorates due to forest fires and crop burning

Thai citizens in Chiang Mai have taken to social media to vent their frustrations as air quality in the northern city has hovered above 180 on the air quality index for the past week due to forest fires and crop burnings.

As of Monday morning, Chiang Mai’s air quality ranged between 155 of the AQI (unhealthy) to 649 (hazardous). Many have called on the local government to act but so far there has been little response.

“I don’t know what I am going to die from first, the coronavirus or the smog,” said Suwapan Suwanpitak, a high school lecturer.

“At least with the Covid-19 crisis, we can stay indoors,” he told Thai Enquirer.

Others have posted pictures of haze and smog-like conditions on social media.

The local government said that the poor air conditions can be attributed to forest fires near Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep and its surrounding vicinity and that it was working with local firefighters to bring the blaze under control.

Locals, however, accuse the government of ignoring slash and burn farmers surrounding Chiang Mai who rely on small controlled fires to clear their plots. They say that the forest fires probably originated from such a plot.

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