ID Fire 1

Smoke Haze Returns

Source: Laksamana.Net, May 28, 2003

Thick smoke hazes caused by deliberately lit fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra are again covering parts of the islands and neighboring Malaysia. Giri Darmoko of the local meteorology office in Pontianak, West Kalimantan province, says a prolonged dry spell had prompted farmers to light fires to clear their land for crops. Malaysia’s Environment Department said satellite imaging has detected 38 hotspots in Sumatra and 16 in Kalimantan.
Since the haze commenced a week ago, visibility levels in the affected areas have been reduced to between 100 meters and six kilometers, compared to the normal level of 10 kilometers. German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported from Malaysia that visibility in Sepang district, where Kuala Lumpur International Airport is located, was “dangerously low” at six kilometers.
The haze is annual problem during the dry season, causing severe health risks for locals and occasional airport closures. Indonesia has banned the use of fire to clear land for plantations and crops, but prosecutions are rare because of poor law enforcement and rampant corruption in the nation’s courts. A Malaysian-owned plantation company earlier this year agreed to pay the Indonesian government compensation of $1.1 million for contributing to the choking smoke haze that blanketed much of Sumatra in the dry season of 1999-2000.


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