Thousands of residents in the polluted area of Mae Moh district in the northern province of Lampang will be relocated to a safer area soon, according to the chief of the province.

Lampang governor Thanin Saensupa told representatives from five villages who had come to meet him on Saturday that as soon as he received the official document the relocation procedures would begin. He expected to receive it next week.

The cabinet on October 15 gave a nod to the demand of Mae Moh residents that they be moved out of the contaminated area after a recent report from the Office of Environmental Policy and Planning (OEPP) showed that those villagers were being affected by toxic gas from a nearby lignite power plant and heavy metals released in the mining of lignite.

The cabinet's approval has put an end to a decade long conflict between villagers living around the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand's coal-fired power plant. Thousands of villagers living near both the lignite mine and the power plant have suffered serious respiratory problems for years. They believed that sulphur dioxide released during mining and power generation was the main cause.

EGAT will shoulder all the expenses incurred from the relocation.

News from NNT