Malaysia: We breathe easier this September Clearer skies due to Indonesia’s action

The Star 14 Sep 16;

PETALING JAYA: It has been a sunny September with mostly clear skies so far, unlike the hazy days during the same period last year.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Indonesia took steps to lessen the hotspots in the country.

“The Indonesian government took prevention and mitigation measures and early intervention to suppress fires. This has helped ease the impact of transboundary haze.

“In addition, the favourable (wet) weather condition and the beginning of La Nina contributed to low hotspot counts in Indonesia,” Wan Junaidi told The Star.

He said Indonesia had done what was part of its three-year Plan of Action in Dealing with Trans-boundary Haze Pollution.

Last year, 150 hotspots were identified in Kalimantan and Sumatra on Sept 12, according to numbers provided by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC).

The ASMC data showed that the number of hotspots in Kalimantan and Sumatra dropped to 134 on the same date this month.

It also showed that there was an average of 40 hotspots daily in the week of Sept 6 to 12, compared with 200 hotspots daily in the same week last year.

“In September last year, we experienced severe haze due to uncontrolled and prolonged land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan as a result of extreme dry weather conditions brought about by a strong El Nino phenomenon,” Wan Junaidi said.

However, he cautioned that there were still active hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

“We expect to be totally free from haze after October as the wind will blow from the north east and because of the start of the rainy season,” he said.

He said Malaysia was also taking measures under the National Haze Action Plan to prevent hotspots.

Among the actions taken were preventive measures on open burning and forest fires, daily patrols in fire prone areas such as peatland and dump sites, and close monitoring on air quality status.

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