Empty promises: Air pollution in Chiang Mai just as bad as ever
Every year the government promises to do something about the brush fires that are intentionally set in the North of Thailand and every year they totally fail, if they even try, to accomplish anything. For people with respiratory issues this city is unlivable for 3-4 months of the year and the people that don't have them are probably developing them because of the fact that they are living their entire lives in a haze of smog that is considered well above the dangerous level.
These fires are intentionally set by farmers and mushroom hunters, since as I have been told this is a very inexpensive way of clearing their land and the undergrowth for rubber, palm, and other cash crops. The mushrooms can be found without doing this, but the fire exposes them much easier and the mushrooms don't (again for some reason I don't know) don't burn.
However, it seems that every single year these fires get out of control and make an already bad situation worse. As I write this the battle rages on on a wildfire that is out of control and of course no one wants to accept responsibility for it.
They found a "fall guy" to take the blame but have not released his name and only say that he denies all the charges that have been placed on him. I suspect that the guy probably didn't even do it but the government just wants to appear to be doing their job - which we all know they don't actually do.
They have placed these water cannon looking things all over the city and the claim is that this will make the air cleaner for people in town. I have a hard time believing there is any truth to this since they don't really spray very high into the air. I suppose if you were standing near it that it might accomplish something but mostly it just makes everything wet and still smoggy.
Another thing that irritates me (about the government) is that every single year (I have only been here for 3 of them) they blame the pollution on the Burmese, even though we can see with our own eyes that the fires are not in Burma, they are HERE in Chiang Mai. You can see it with your own eyes especially at night.
An AQI over 100 is considered unhealthy and you can see that some areas are over 300 and this is considered hazardous to anyone whether they have respiratory issues or not. It is recommended that when the level is above 300 that no one should be doing anything outdoors at all.
The people who have the ability to do so tend to leave Chiang Mai during this time of year and not come back until the fires are finished and this normally happens by April.
I do not have the means to do so and therefore just spend as much time as possible indoors with the air purifier doing its job.
It is just upsetting to me that every single year the government says they are going to put a stop to this and every single year the exact same thing happens: nothing at all. The fires continue, no one is prosecuted, and the people of Chiang Mai end up inhaling harmful levels of pollution for 3 to 4 months.
Fortunately for me, I have the means to leave here once the borders open back up and while I do like almost every other aspect of living here - this is just government nonsense. They could stop it... they just wont. Instead, this city is one of the top 3 most polluted cities in the entire world. This is not a list I want to be a part of.