Bangkok (NNT/VNA) - The National Environment Board (NEB) of Thailand has endorsed stricter measures to combat air pollution caused by PM2.5, ordering all 17 provinces in the North to halt burning activities until the end of April.

Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation Spokesperson Siwaporn Rugsiyanon said that from January to March, the number of hotspots in the country increased to 56,439 points nationwide, with 31,719 in the North, of which 80% were in forest land and 15% in farming zones.

To address the problem, the NEB has proposed a zero-burning policy in both forest and agricultural zones in the 17 northern provinces. If the situation worsens, the agency could consider ordering the closure of as many as 92 forest parks that operate under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to mitigate the situation.

Other measures include prohibiting the purchase of sugar cane harvested by burning methods, restricting the number and duration of trucks entering urban areas, artificial rainmaking, setting up PM2.5-free spaces, and reducing the number of hotspots in each forest zone.

In addition to NEB’s plan to establish a "pollution clinic" in high-risk areas, the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will work together in enforcing a zero-burning policy in farming zones, including imposing lower import taxes for farming engines to promote alternatives to burning activities.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Surat Bualert, the Dean of the Faculty of Environment at Kasetsart University, disclosed earlier that the primary source of PM2.5 in Bangkok is burning activities outside the city. He stressed the importance of controlling activities in the agricultural sector to improve Bangkok’s air quality./.