Haze likely to stay at least 3 days, says NEA

Haze likely to stay at least 3 days, says NEA

20 October 2010

published by www.channelnewsasia.com

Singapore —  The National Environment Agency (NEA) said moderate haze would likely continue in Singapore for the next three days.

It added hotspot activities in Sumatra were expected to persist or escalate.

Satellite pictures on Tuesday showed 202 hotspots in Sumatra, indicating where Indonesian farmers and plantation companies had set fires to clear large swathes of forests to get the land ready for the crop-plating season.

The number of satellite pictures has gone down to 146 on Wednesday.

But NEA said the drop in number of hotspots was not a clear indication of the haze situation as there might be undetected peat fires underground or fires undetected by satellite due to cloud cover.

NEA said the prevailing winds from the southwest and westerly directions were blowing the smoke haze to Singapore.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim has expressed disappointment at the recent sharp increase in hotspots in Sumatra.

Speaking on the sidelines of the opening of a power plant on Wednesday morning, he said Singapore has asked the Indonesian authorities on several occasions to take extra measures to ensure the forest fires do not recur.

“We are a bit disappointed with what’s happening; this is not the first time that we have informed the Indonesians that they should pay attention to the hotspots both in Sumatra and Borneo,” Dr Yaacob said.

“And in fact, (on) many occasions, we have told the Indonesians, ‘please take extra measures that this does not recur’.

“But this has happened. Last week, when we had our meeting in Brunei for the ASEAN Haze Agreement, we reminded (during) the meeting, that we should remain vigilant even though it is supposed to wetter than normal for this year”.

Dr Yaacob added meanwhile, he had informed the Indonesians that Singapore would assist readily in fire-fighting effort.

The three-hour PSI reading as at 4pm on Wednesday was 79, which is in the moderate range.

A PSI level above 100 is considered unhealthy.

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