The Environment - Thailand

Updated 2009-09-23 11:47

Thais are very thoughtful for physical cleanliness. Every ordinary Thai takes a shower at least once daily before bedtime. But even so thoughtful the Thais are with physical cleanliness, they are not anxious to keep their surroundings clean, or to develop something like environmental awareness. All packaging materials flies out of the windows, accounting for a lot of waste, as in Thailand stores wrap each candy twice, before putting it in a plastic bag. Even empty cans, old batteries, used tires, etc. are simply thrown away somewhere, when they have served out, in the hope that rats and rain will take care of their disposal.

Especially in the poorer neighborhoods and slums, where the huts because of the many floods typical forBangkok have been erected on stilts, it often looks like a garbage dump. In the rainy season the flood and the water swaps sometimes for weeks under the huts. One can imagine what scents and mosquito swarms emerge from this broth, in the daytime temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius.

Even in the few remaining canals in Bangkok - because of its many waterways once called Venice of the East - today swashes only a black, foul-smelling broth, and one wonders that it is still flowing. The Klongs - in colorful travel brochures still described as tourist attractions, are transfigured in stinking cesspools

Another example of pollution is the shrimp breeding, operated today in the river delta near Bangkok, or wherever sufficient water is available. First a rice field is excavated and turned into an artificial pond. Then one buys several thousands of baby-shrimps from a breeding farm, sets them in the pond, and feeds them several times a day with special breeding flour. If after two to three months, the shrimps have achieved finger length, the content of the whole pond is pumped through nets. The shrimp collected in the nets are bought by wholesale buyers coming from Bangkok, and for the most part are exported. The business, very lucrative for the first breeders, had then led many farmers to change their rice fields into ponds for breeding shrimps. Where formerly wide rice fields extended, today ponds after ponds are now to be seen.

If one day the shrimp breeding will no longer be worthwhile, because with growing supply the prices paid by collectors will drop, or when breeding is no longer possible because the water pumped from, and after breeding disposed of into the Klongs, is so polluted that no longer shrimps can no longer live in, it is hardly possible to convert all these holes back into productive rice fields. The poisons used to combat the diseases of shrimps had resulted in the total poisoning of the soil, which is therefore no longer good for agricultural use. But nobody is worried about how the children will make their livelihood, when after shrimp breeding agriculture is not possible anymore in the fields, contaminated by shrimp breeding... Then the farmers will suddenly find out that they have cut off the branch on which they are sitting. The government has prohibited the excavation of new ponds, but as usual in Thailand, nobody will observe it, as long as it is possible to make a few baht by ignoring the law. The problem is mainly the "laissez-faire mentality" of this people, and the disregard for all environment activities by the authorities.

Environmental protection has never been a problem to that the Government has attached particular importance or even priority. If politicians are talking of the need for protection of environment, that are usually empty declarations of intent, which no actions to follow. But even if a regulation to protect the environment is published, then the execution will be done by Thai-stile.

In recent years, however, it has increasingly come to protest actions by parts of the population, damaged or deprived of their livelihood through environment pollution. But these protests are only directed against the implications of environment pollutions, so far as they are related to their own living conditions. Any efforts to encourage environmental consciousness or even to attach a higher priority to the protection of environment as in western countries, can still not be seen in Thailand.

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