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Date [ 2015-10-15, 06:29 ]

Singapore Officials visited Jakarta to discuss haze


(Singapore=Koreanpress) Park So-jin = Air quality in Singapore has been in the Moderate range today, October 12, 2015, with generally good visibility across most parts of the island. For the rest of today, the prevailing winds are expected to continue blowing from the east or southeast, and the current conditions are expected to persist. As at 6pm today, the 24-hr PSI was 79-89, in the Moderate range, and the 1-hr PM2.5 was 49-77 µg/m3.

The total number of hotspots detected in Sumatra today was 129. Parts of central and southern Sumatra are still affected by moderate to dense haze. Some haze that had spread westward from Kalimantan is also observed over the sea areas southeast of Singapore.

For tomorrow, the prevailing winds are forecast to be weak and blow from the southeast. Occasional slight haze can be expected with visibility likely to be in the normal range. The 24-hr PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the Moderate range, and may enter the low end of the Unhealthy range if denser haze is blown in from the surrounding region.

The health impact of haze is dependent on one’s health status, the PSI level, and the length and intensity of outdoor activity. Reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion can help limit the ill effects from haze exposure. Given the air quality forecast for the next 24 hours, healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.

The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention.

The island, like Malaysia and Brunei, has come under a blanket of haze again. It has become more or less an annual affair. Calls have been repeatedly made by Indonesia’s neighbours but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Things may improve, perhaps a bit slowly. New President, Joko Widodo promised some action and then fell silent. But the latest news from Indonesia carries reports of four being charged for open burning, two plantations and two farmers. The licenses of the plantations have been revoked.

With no end in sight it is not surprising that a small team of officials from Singapore left for Indonesia in the first week of October. They were led by Permanent Secretary Choi Shing Kwok of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. He met with the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Gen (Retd) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and Head of National Disaster Management Agency, Willem Rampangilei in Jakarta. The meeting was convened at the invitation of the Indonesian side.The Singapore delegation was briefed by the Indonesians on the measures being undertaken by the Indonesian Government in Sumatra and Kalimantan to tackle land and forest fires that are causing transboundary haze pollution in Singapore and the region.

In the context of this briefing and the discussion that followed, Singapore reiterated and explained its offer of assistance to tackle the fires, including the provision of one Chinook helicopter to conduct water bombing and one C-130 aircraft for cloud-seeding operations. Indonesia clarified at the meeting that it had enough resources of its own and did not need to call on the assistance offered by Singapore at this time.

The meeting also discussed law enforcement actions by Indonesia against errant companies and Singapore explained how its Transboundary Haze Pollution Act allows it to also take legal action against offenders who cause transboundary haze in Singapore to supplement Indonesia’s actions while respecting Indonesia’s sovereignty. In this regard, Singapore also reiterated and explained its request for Indonesia to share information that could help identify companies suspected of causing such fires. This is being considered by the Indonesian side who will respond in due course. 

abc@koreanpress.net

 

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