Project Wolbachia still in study phase, will not be deployed in dengue clusters: NEA

Ang Hwee Min Channel NewsAsia 24 Jul 19;

SINGAPORE: Project Wolbachia is still in the research study phase and therefore has not been deployed in dengue clusters, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Wednesday (Jul 24).

In a joint statement with the Ministry of Health (MOH), NEA said Project Wolbachia, which took home a distinguished award at the Minister for National Development’s R&D Awards on Tuesday, has shown great results.

The project involves infecting male Aedes mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria, so that when they mate with females, the latter’s eggs do not hatch. Wolbachia-infected males also do not bite.

Now in its third phase, the study areas for the project has expanded by about 3.7 times since it first began in 2016, with a 90 per cent suppression of the Aedes mosquito population in the Nee Soon and Tampines study sites.

“Such a focused approach is needed to derive good comparative results, and a consistent and comprehensive data set over time, to ensure the robustness of the study before scaling-up to more areas beyond Yishun and Tampines,” said NEA.

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Malaysia, Johor: Putrajaya probing early warning system that did not activate during Johor pollution

Channel NewsAsia 24 Jul 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government is reviewing an RM846 million (US$205 million) environment quality early warning system that failed to activate during a series of pollution incidents in Johor this year, environment minister Yeo Bee Yin said on Wednesday (Jul 24).

According to a Malay Mail report, the Environmental Quality Monitoring Programme (EQMP) did not alert authorities to the illegal dumping of toxic waste at Sungai Kim Kim in March as well as the more recent environmental incidents.

“The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) has since been reviewing the performance and efficiency of the system, the legal aspects, and renegotiating the terms of the agreement, with the possibility of early termination,” Ms Yeo was quoted as saying in the report.

“The hefty cost charged by the concessionaire makes up almost 30 per cent of Department of Environment’s (DoE) annual budget, depriving the department from critical expenditures on transportation, tools and most of all human development for enforcement activities,” she noted.

The nationwide EQMP is a public-private partnership project between the federal government and Pakar Scieno TW Sdn Bhd.

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Malaysia: Govt agencies to discuss integrated efforts to fight river pollution in Johor

Bernama New Straits Times 24 Jul 19;

JOHOR BARU: Continued integrated efforts by government agencies to deal with river pollution are among the issues that will be discussed at the meeting of the State Permanent Committee on Environment on Sunday.

Johor Environment Department (DoE) director Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaafar said the department took a serious view of river pollution.

“What is important is integrated action by the various agencies to overcome river pollution,” he said when he was asked to comment on the worsening levels of pollution in at least 16 rivers in the districts of Johor Baru and Pasir Gudang.

The meeting will be chaired by state Local Government, Urban Well Being and Environment Committee chairman Tan Chen Choon.

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Malaysia: Perhilitan translocates two-tonne wild jumbo to Terengganu national park

The Star 24 Jul 19;

KOTA BARU (Bernama): A two-tonne male wild elephant captured in Batu Melintang, Jeli, on Sunday (July 21) was successfully relocated by the Wildlife and National Park Department (Perhilitan) to the Terengganu National Park.

Kelantan Perhilitan director Ady Ermanty Haniff Mohamed Hanif said that two decoy elephants, namely, Abot and Rambai, from the National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC) in Kuala Gandah, Lanchang, in Pahang were used in the operation.

He said that the relocation exercise started at 8.30am Wednesday (July 24) and was completed at 1.15pm.

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Indonesia fights spreading fires in Central Kalimantan as dry season is set to peak

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja Straits Times 24 Jul 19;

JAKARTA - Indonesia is stepping up efforts to fight spreading forest fires in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island that have moved closer to residential areas and public roads.

The dry season is expected to peak soon in the province, prompting the authorities to increase firefighting efforts.

Two helicopters on Tuesday (July 23) were deployed to Palangkaraya, the provincial capital, for water-bombing runs to remote areas.

"We have started water-bombing in Central Kalimantan. The ground and air teams are ready in five provinces," Mr Dody Ruswandi, the secretary-general of Indonesian disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), told The Straits Times.

Fires have also occurred in Sumatra and Java.

"The situation in Sumatra is under control," Mr Dody said.

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