Bangkok using water-spraying drones and planes to try to cut air pollution

A fleet of drones, trucks and small planes is spraying water to try to reduce air pollution around Bangkok as the governor invites critics to come up with better ideas to improve air quality in the Thai capital.

Unhealthy pollution levels forced city schools to close on Wednesday for the rest of week, and the Public Health Ministry advised against outdoor activities.

Faced with public discontent as well as a possible health crisis, the governor declared the city a “pollution control zone”, allowing firmer measures such as road closures and limits on diesel vehicles, outdoor burning and construction activities.

Schools have been closed in Bangkok (Sakchai Lalit/AP)
Schools have been closed in Bangkok (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered inspections of factories to measure the pollution they are emitting.

The governor, Police General Asawin Kwanmuang, said drones are not a long-term solution but he thinks every bit of effort helps.

At a news conference, he said critics calling the drones a meaningless stunt would otherwise criticise him for doing nothing.

A drone over the Suthat Temple (Sakchai Lalit/AP)
A drone over the Suthat Temple (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Gen Asawin invited private sector experts and academics to share ideas to improve air quality.

“Those who are knowledgeable on this issue, don’t give opinions to others, tell me. I am the one who is working on the issue, please give me advice,” he said.

“Do I know everything? No, I don’t. Because I do not know everything, that’s why I will hold a meeting. Please join us in brainstorming.”

Critics say using drones to spray water is ineffective.

The director of Greenpeace Thailand, Tara Buakumsri, said at best, the attempt will have a psychological impact on city dwellers, but it will not improve air quality.

Mr Tara said the government should determine the sources of the pollution and come up with long-term strategies to reduce emissions from those sources.

- Press Association

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