Indonesia:Indonesia warns forest fire haze could worsen in coming months
Publishedby The Star Online, 23 August 2004
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Haze from forest fires that is fouling skies over Indonesia may worsen in coming months as farmers continue to torch land to make way for crops, the government was quoted as saying Monday.
Bush fires have sent smoke billowing over large parts of Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan islands in recent months.
Air quality has dropped, and flights have been delayed in Indonesia.
“The condition could worsen because people keep on burning the forests for farming,” The Jakarta Post quoted Sudariyono, deputy minister for ecosystem maintenance, as saying.
“In addition, there is no indication that rainfall will start soon.”
Sudariyono, who goes by a single name, said the central government could do little to stop the haze apart from instructing regional administrators to crack down on the problem.
In 1997-98, wildfires in Sumatra and Kalimantan provinces burned out of control for weeks, ravaging 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of scrub land and blanketing nearby Singapore and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia with thick smoke.
Economic losses from those fires topped US$9.3 billion and prompted a 2002 agreement among six of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to fight fire pollution.