CHIANG MAI — Chiang Mai residents are unleashing anger over inaction to solving the persistent, toxic smog choking the region.
University students are protesting and social media is piling wrath onto officials for their lack of response in a week that saw Chiang Mai city ranked the world’s most-polluted city for a second consecutive day Wednesday. Particulate density rose to more than 200 micrograms per cubic meter, according to monitoring organization AirVisual.
Among the frustrations expressed is the sense that what suddenly became a priority in the capital is ignored in the north, even though it has been plagued by foul air for years.
“It’s been bad for a while already. Why don’t I see any help from the government? Is it so difficult to give away masks in other provinces and educate their communities?” @Mxxnsrk asked.
“There are people living in Chiang Mai too. It’s not an abandoned city. We pay tax equally but why do you care more about the problem in Bangkok? I feel so neglected,” @Sandyaloha2 wrote.
Measures deemed ineffective in Bangkok, such as spraying water into the air, have been adopted, to the dismay of some northerners.
“Don’t worry too much about smog, guys. The governor is up in a cherry picker spraying water,” user @MC_Sutthipong tweeted with a photo of a truck spraying water onto the ground for a media photo op in Chiang Mai city. “So ridiculous. Is this all they can come up with?” @Idgaf_kah replied.
Pollution levels in the province have risen to “very unhealthy” since yesterday.
Chiang Mai University students staged a campus protest Tuesday in which they offered face masks to the spirits at a shrine.
“We want clean air,” one sign read. Another said, “When all the puu yai in this country can’t help, it comes down to the holy spirits as our last hope.”
The north and northeastern are choking on seasonal toxic smoke mainly caused by agricultural and waste burning, which spiked in the run-up to the enforcement of a new ban. Pollution also increased to “unhealthy” levels this morning in Loei, Khon Kaen, Chiang Rai, Nan, Prae, Mae Hong Son and Lampang.
Gov. Suppachai Iamsuwan addressed the problem in a statement issued online last night. While insisting best efforts have been made to solve the issue, he blamed the pollution on weather conditions and neighboring provinces. He said the air quality would improve in three days due to falling air pressure.
He floated solutions such as spraying more water into the air, increasing awareness in rural areas and banning open-air burning.
That didn’t appear to win confidence from residents.
“Oh, does Chiang Mai have a governor?” user Pop Jaruwit Sriwichai wrote.
“We’ve already known about most of the causes and solutions you said here, in principle,” user Panja Suwanich commented. “But I want to see some serious action come out of this.”