Compliance with agreement has greatly reduced haze impact

Compliance with agreement has greatly reduced haze impact

17 May 2011

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Malaysia — MIRI: The collaboration among Asean countries has resulted in a greatly reduced impact of transboundary smoke haze over the last few years.

Member countries’ compliance with the agreement on transboundary haze pollution, signed in 2002, and the regular meetings of Asean ministerial steering committee on haze, had contributed to a better understanding to address the issue.

“I have been in this ministry for three years. You notice that we have been lucky that we didn’t experience what we had experienced in 1997 to 1998, which was a very bad haze,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas told reporters here yesterday.

He said the collaborations that began with the sharing of strategies to combat illegal burning had also been enhanced to include joint efforts in installation of weather and air monitoring systems.

To date, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are spearheading the efforts to install air monitoring stations in the Riau and Jambi provinces in Indonesia.

“We are looking forward to having more areas of collaborations (in the future),” he said, adding that Brunei had already indicated an interests to be involved in the collaboration.

He said the a sum of RM1mil had been spent to build five tube wells as a measure to maintain the water level in peat soil areas in Miri.

He said peat soil had been known to be highly combustible in dry conditions and the risks were apparent especially in the current dry weather.

In addition, he said, 13 check dams were also constructed at a cost of between RM5,000 and RM10,000 each as another measure to maintain the water level in peat soil areas as well as to provide water source for combating peat fire.

A watch tower had also been completed at a cost of under RM400,000 to be used for monitoring peat soil areas, he said. — Bernama

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