Jakarta, Indonesia — Thick and acrid haze from fires set to clear land is blanketing parts of the Indonesian section of Borneo island, a meteorology official said Sunday.
“The haze is thick early in the morning, limiting visibility to under 200 meters (660 feet), but by 9:00 visibility would already have improved to around 2,000 meters,” Bambang, an official with the meteorology station at Pontianak in West Kalimantan province, was quoted by AFP as saying.
Satellite images show the overwhelming majority of the 344 hotspots detected on the island are found in the province.
“People are still using fire to clear ground for the new planting season.
Nothing has changed and it is hard get them to shed the practice,” said Bambang.
The government has outlawed land clearing by fire but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.
Satellite imaging also showed a few hotspots in East Kalimantan province, along with 26 on Sumatra island, mostly in the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatra.
Burning in Indonesia and some parts of Malaysia to clear land for crops causes an annual haze that can afflict Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as well as Indonesia itself.
The Indonesian forestry ministry last week denied that fires on Sumatra and Borneo were to blame for the haze which smothered areas in Malaysia.