Singapore: A ministerial meeting on haze
pollution in South East Asia has agreed to ban all open
burning in the region in anticipation of the El Nino hot
weather conditions exacerbating in the last quarter of the
The Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on
Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, which met here yesterday, also
agreed to suspend permits for prescribed burning activities in
fire-prone areas such as in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Singapore`s Environment and Water Resources Minister, Dr
Yaacob Ibrahim, told a media conference after the meeting that
the committee was concerned after the Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Specialised Meteorological Centre
reported that the prevailing weak El Nino condition was
forecast to intensify to a moderate to strong one by the end
of this year.
Warning that El Nino phenomenon was likely to worsen and
will prolong the current dry spell in the region till October,
Ibrahim said the committee hoped that there would be continued
increase in hotspot activities in fire-prone areas of Sumatra
and Kalimantan in Indonesia and Sarawak in Malaysian island of
Borneo over the next few months.
The committee noted that this was likely to lead to more
trans-boundary smoke haze pollution in the region, he said.
In a separate statement, the committee said the region
has experienced a sharp increase in the number of hotspots up
to last Saturday, as compared with the same period in 2006
when the region last experienced severe smoke haze pollution.
The ministers noted that while there had been sporadic
incidences of air quality reaching unhealthy levels, the
situation was still under control because of mitigation
actions taken by the countries involved.