Thai authorities to get tough

Thai authorities to get tough
Published: 01 April 2004

After decades of failing to curb the dust from rock quarries and cement plants which blankets many parts of Saraburi province in a haze, the Pollution Control Department is planning tough new action. Two of the hardest-hit areas, Na Phra Lan and Kaeng Khoi districts, contain more than a hundred of the environment-damaging plants and are densely populated.  The fine dust hangs in the air, obscuring visibility and posing a major health threat, especially to residents’ lungs. Despite a series of efforts to improve the environment, the problem persists.

This reflects an image that the government is weak, said permanent secretary for natural resources and environment Plodprasop Suraswadi. At a meeting of the Pollution Control Committee yesterday, Mr Plodprasop proposed taking immediate action, without waiting for the results of a study which is due to conclude in three years.

Adisak Thongkaimook, deputy chief of the Pollution Control Department, said many operators just ignore the regulations. There were 21 cement plants and 85 stone mills in the area, he said. The mills produce a dust so fine it can easily pass into the human tract and lodge in the lungs. Despite the known dangers, the dust still plagued the area.

The Pollution Control Committee agreed with Mr Plodprasop’s proposal and will send it on to the National Environment Board and the cabinet for final approval.