Riau forest fires discussed at ASEAN meeting

Riau forest fires discussed at ASEAN meeting

24 February 2011

published by www.antaranews.com  

Indonesia — Representatives of five ASEAN member countries recently met in Singapore for talks about joint efforts to overcome forest and bush fires in Riau province.

Head of Bengkalis district`s environmental agency, Husaini, said here Thursday that the 11th meeting was attended by representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The frequent forest and bush fires in Bengkalis district became part of the meeting`s agenda, he said.

“The meeting in Singapore has put the forest and bush fires in Riau province, including those in Bengkalis district, into the meeting`s agenda. This is actually a classical matter,” he said.

After the Singapore meeting, the Bengkalis district government was invited by Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta to participate in a follow-up meeting, he said.

“At the meeting, the minister paid a special attention to the fires in Bukit Batu subdistrict`s areas,” Husaini said.

Forest and bush fires in certain parts of Sumatra island, including Riau province, have frequently occurred over the past years.

In October 2010, Singapore had even offered to help extinguish forest and bush fires in Sumatra because the disaster had also affected the city state.

At that time, as a result of the ongoing hot spots in Sumatra Island, haze had blanketed the sky over Singapore for a few days.

The border crossing smoke was not regarded by Singapore as “a small problem”.

Therefore, Singapore was willing to offer help to Indonesia to work together to handle forest and bush fires as the cause of the haze.

The frequent forest and bush fires on Sumatra Island have not only affected the lives of residents and economic activities of the affected provinces and Singapore but also Malaysia.

The smoke of Sumatran forest and bush fires has, sometimes, even disrupted flights in affected provinces and two neighboring countries.(*)

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