Posts Tagged ‘forest fires’

282 hot spots detected across Indonesia

August 6, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, fire, sky and outdoor

Indonesia — Fire-fighting operations in South Sumatra, one of the five provinces currently in a state of emergency. Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB)

JAKARTA – Indonesian satellites on Sunday (Aug 6) morning picked up 282 hot spots – believed to be the highest number across the country this year – as the dry season continues.

The worst hit province was West Kalimantan, where more than half of the hot spots were detected, said National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) spokesman, Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, as he released the figures yesterday (Aug 6) evening.

Five districts in the province – Kubu Raya, Ketapang, Sekadau, Melawi and Bengkayang – have declared a state of emergency to enable local authorities to access central government support, including military assistance, to put out the fires.

Dr Sutopo also expressed concern that although 150 hot spots were detected across West Kalimantan, the number of fires there may be higher.

“Land and forest fires in West Kalimantan continue despite our continued efforts to suppress them,” he added.

He warned that the number of hot spots is probably higher as the satellites may not have passed over all the forest and land areas where fires could be burning.

Other areas in Indonesia were also hit by forest fires, albeit not as badly as in 2015 when the burning of forest and peatland in Kalimantan and Sumatra produced a transboundary haze, which blanketed the region and led to record air pollution levels for months.

Aside from those in West Kalimantan, the hot spots were spread across other provinces such as South Sumatra (23 hot spots), South Sulawesi (18), Riau (16) and East Nusa Tenggara (12).

Dr Sutopo said the hot spots were spotted on private plantation land, community-owned land and in national parks, in hard-to-reach locations.

Image may contain: one or more people

An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

“The areas burned are generally areas that are difficult to access and away from settlements, that is why (the fires) are difficult to extinguish,” he added.

As of Saturday, 18 helicopters have been deployed for fire-fighting operations in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. All five provinces are currently in a state of emergency.

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said last Sunday that helicopters will deployed to put out fires over areas where there is limited road access.

“If land access is difficult or shut down for a long time, then we will use water-bombings,” she said.

The dry season in Indonesia is forecast to end in September, at the earliest.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/282-hot-spots-detected-across-indonesia-on-sunday

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Carbon monoxide concentrations world-wide during the Indonesian burning season, 2015

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Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires

June 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Laurence COUSTAL | Heat waves have become more frequent in Portugal, say experts

PARIS (AFP) – Highly exposed to global warming’s climate-altering impacts, Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires such as the one — still raging — that has killed at least 60 people this weekend, experts say.- Why Portugal, why now? –

The Iberian peninsula encompassing Portugal and Spain is experiencing a warmer, drier June than usual, explains Thomas Curt, a researcher at France’s Irstea climate and agriculture research institute.

Added to that, the country has vast expanses of highly inflammable plants, including forests of pine and eucalyptus trees.

“Hotter air is synonymous with drier and more inflammable vegetation,” said Curt. “The more the mercury climbs, so does the risk of fires and their intensity.”

Temperatures in the region have warmed by more than the global average over the past half century, according to a 2014 review of climate change impacts on Portugal.

Heat waves have become more frequent, and annual rainfall slightly less, said the review published in the journal WIREs Climate Change.

More frequent and pronounced heat waves are expected in future, accompanied by a “substantial increase” in fire risk — “both in severity and in length of the fire season,” it said.

– Does global warming boost forest fire risk? –

“It is certain — we are experiencing a rise in temperatures,” said Curt.

The Northern hemisphere summer has lengthened over the past 50 years from July-to-August, to June-to-October now — meaning a longer fire risk season.

There has been an increase in major fires of more than 100 hectares, and so-called “megafires” of more than 1,000 hectares, the researcher added.

“It is truly a growing problem everywhere in the world, and notably in Mediterranean Europe.”

These mega blazes remain rare — only about 2-3 percent of all fires — but are responsible for about three-quarters of all surface burnt.

“Many analyses of climate change show that these major fires will become more and more likely,” said Curt.

– What to do? –

In the short term, reinforce firefighting capacity, deploy patrols, set up watchtowers to raise the alarm, and ban fire-making everywhere.

Over the longer term, human settlements and green areas will need to be substantially redesigned, experts say.

Some forest will have to be cut back, undergrowth cleared, and residential areas moved further from scrubland and forest borders, to reduce the risk to life and property.

“The focus of efforts should shift from combating forest fires as they arise to preventing them from existing, through responsible long-term forest management,” green group WWF said.

“Responsible forest management is more effective and financially more efficient than financing the giant firefighting mechanisms that are employed every year.”

In the yet longer term, added Curt, “of course, we need to curtail global warming itself.”

by Laurence COUSTAL

Deadly wildfires around the world

June 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | One of Australia’s worst wildfires killed around 173 people in 2009

PARIS (AFP) – Portuguese firefighters kept up the battle Sunday after one of the worst wildfire disasters in recent history killed at least 62 people.Here is a rundown of some of the deadliest wildfires around the world over the past two centuries.

– Australia –

In February 2009, at least 173 people die in brush fires in the south east, notably in the state of Victoria where entire towns and more than 2,000 houses are destroyed. The fires lasts several weeks before being contained by thousands of firemen and volunteers. It is one of the worst fires ever recorded in Australia.

– China –

In May 1987, the deadliest forest fire in recent Chinese history kills 119 in the northeast of the country, injuring 102 and leaving 51,000 homeless.

– France –

In August 1949, in the southwest Landes region, 82 rescue workers are killed. The victims — firemen, volunteers and soldiers — are caught in a ball of fire after the winds suddenly changed direction.

– Greece –

In 2007, 77 people die at the end of August in unprecedented forest fires that ravaged 250,000 hectares (2,500 square kilometres) in the southern Peloponnese and the island of Evia, northeast of Athens. The fires are the worst recorded in Greece in recent years.

– Portugal –

In June 2017, a fire roars through Portugal’s central Leiria region, killing at least 62 people and injuring over 50 more.

In 1966, a fire in the forest of Sintra, west of Lisbon, kills 25 soldiers fighting the blaze.

– Russia –

Around 60 people die between July and August 2010 as fires rage in over a million hectares of forest, bogs and brushwood, burning entire villages in the western part of the country during an unprecedented heatwave and drought.

– United States –

Likely the country’s deadliest, a wildfire struck Peshtigo, Wisconsin in October 1871, killing between 800 and 1,200 people. The fire had been burning for several days before it ripped into the forested village with a population of 1,700, destroying it in a matter of hours. It also damaged 16 other villages and destroyed 500,000 hectares of land.

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Portugal forest fires kill 43, many burn to death in their cars

June 18, 2017

Portugal, like most southern European countries, is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 11:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 5:34pm

Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed at least 43 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Sunday called “the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years”

The death toll initially stood at 25 in the early morning and the updated figure was given by public broadcaster RTP said the death toll, citing Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes.

The fatalities occurred in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 150 kilometres northeast of Lisbon, where about 600 firefighters have been trying to put out the fires since Saturday, Gomes said.

Gomes said that at least 16 people were killed when their vehicles were engulfed by flames on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, and three others died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

 Firefighters rest during the wildfire. Photo: AFP

No information was immediately given on how the others were killed.

A huge wall of thick smoke and bright red flames towered over the top of trees near houses in the wooded region.

Spanish state television showed terrifying images from the neighbouring country of several people on a road trying to escape the intense smoke that had reduced visibility to a question of a few meters. A young man shared a bottle of water with a distraught woman as she stumbled down the road.

Local resident Isabel Brandao said that she had feared for her life.

 Firefighters work to contain the forest fire. Photo: EPA

“Yesterday we saw the fire but thought it was very far. I never thought it would come to this side,” she said.

“At 3:30 a.m., my mother-in-law woke me up quickly and we never went to sleep again. We were afraid the fire would reach us.”

RTP said there are at least another 20 people injured, including six firefighters. Fourteen of the injured were in serious condition, RTP said.

Dry thunderstorms could have been the cause of the fatal blaze, according to the prime minister.

A huge wall of thick smoke and bright red flames towered over the top of trees near houses in the wooded region.

 A firefighter helps a woman during the forest fire. Photo: EPA

“This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions,” said Valdemar Alves, mayor of Pedrogao Grande.

“I am completely stunned by the number of deaths.”

Costa said that firefighting crews were having difficulties in approaching the area because the fire was “very intense.”

He added that Portuguese authorities were working on identifying the victims and that Spanish rescuers would assist in efforts to control the blazes.

 Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (L) embraces Secretary of State of Internal Administration Jorge Gomes. Photo: EPA

Costa said that while investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of the fire, authorities believe that the high temperatures of 40 Celsius in recent days may have played a part.

Portugal, like most southern European countries, is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months.

Portugal was hit by a series of fires last year which devastated more than 1,000 square kilometres of the mainland.

Fires on the tourist island of Madeira in August killed three people, while over the course of 2016 around 40 homes were destroyed and 5,400 hectares of land burned.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse

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The Latest: Portugal Forest Fire Death Toll Rises to 39 — “Still could be more dead”

June 18, 2017

LISBON, Portugal — The Latest on Portugal forest fires (all times local):

8:25 a.m.

A Portuguese interior ministry official says that the death toll in the forest fires raging in central Portugal has increased to 39.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes has been quoted as giving the new figure on public broadcaster RTP. Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes that are raging in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

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This item has been corrected to show that Jorge Gomes is an Interior Ministry official, not interior minister.

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4:35 a.m.

Portuguese radio station TSF says the Interior Ministry has confirmed that 25 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal.

Government officials say many of victims died in their cars when flames swept over a road.

About 600 firefighters are fighting blazes that are raging in the Pedrogao Grande area about 150 kilometers (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

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BBC News

A catastrophic forest fire in Portugal has claimed at least 43 lives, officials say.

Many died while trying to flee the Pedrógão Grande area, 50 km (30 miles) south-east of Coimbra, in their cars, according to the government.

Several firefighters are among the 59 people injured.

“Unfortunately this seems to be the greatest tragedy we have seen in recent years in terms of forest fires,” said Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

The death toll could rise further, he said.

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes said that three people died from smoke inhalation and 18 people travelling in four cars died on the road linking Figueiró dos Vinhos to Castanheira de Pera.

Flames raging around a road in Pedrógão Grande

Media in Portugal said the fire is no closer to being contained despite about 600 firefighters working to put them out. EPA photo

Among the 59 injured was an eight-year-old girl with burns found wandering alone close to the fire, the Correio do Manhã newspaper reported.

Six firefighters are seriously wounded, national broadcaster RTP said, and two are reported missing.

The Correio do Manhã warned that many areas hit by the fire had not yet been reached by authorities, so the death toll was likely to increase.

A house on fire near Pedrógão Grande
A number of houses near Pedrógão Grande have been destroyed. EPA Photo

About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with close to 1,700 firefighters battling them across Portugal.

The flames spread “with great violence” on four fronts near Pedrógão Grande, Mr Gomes said.

Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help tackle the fires.

It is not yet known what caused the fire, however Mr Costa said thunderstorms could have been one possible cause.

Portugal has been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures of more than 40C (104F) in some areas.

“This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions,” said Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrógão Grande, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press agency.

“I am completely stunned by the number of deaths.”

Firefighters rest during a wildfire at Penela, Coimbra, central Portugal, on June 18, 2017
Firefighters pause as the wildfire continues behind them. AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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25 dead from huge forest fires in Portugal

June 18, 2017

AP and France 24

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© Screengrab, FRANCE 24 | Portuguese firefighters

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-06-18

At least 25 people have been killed in forest fires in central Portugal, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, officials said early Sunday.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said the deaths occurred in the Pedrogao Grande area, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Lisbon, where some 600 firefighters are trying to put out the fires since Saturday.

Gomes said 16 people were killed in their cars on a road between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera, and three others died from smoke inhalation in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

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19 people died on the road surrounded by fire and many more are injured.
People are losing their homes and memories.
Portugal needs help!

Public broadcaster RTP said there were about 20 injured, including six firefighters. Fourteen of the injured were in serious condition, RTP said.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa called it “the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years.” He said Portuguese authorities were working on identifying the victims and that Spanish rescuers would assist in efforts to control the blazes.

Televised images showed a huge wall of bright red flames leaping over the top of trees in the wooded region.

Portugal has suffered high temperatures that have reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degress Fahrenheit) in recent days.

The southern European country is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months.

(AP)

Indonesia in haze warning as fires flare

August 19, 2016

AFP

© AFP | Forest fires in Ogan Ilir, Indonesia’s South Sumatra province

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia warned Friday that haze from forest fires was floating over a key waterway towards its neighbours, and that the number of blazes was rising.

The fires and resulting smog are an annual dry season problem in the archipelago, when blazes are started illegally to quickly and cheaply clear land, typically to make way for palm oil and pulpwood plantations.

But last year’s haze outbreak was among the worst in memory, shrouding Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand in acrid smoke. The crisis forced school closures and caused thousands to fall sick across the region.

While this year’s fires have yet to reach the levels of 2015, the number has been rising in recent weeks as Indonesia heads towards its peak dry season in September.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho warned that smoke had Thursday started floating across the Malacca Strait, which runs between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

“Smoke from forest and land fires in Riau (province) has started to enter the Malacca Strait,” he tweeted.

“Let’s prevent and put out the fires.”

Riau, on western Sumatra island, is a major centre of the palm oil and pulpwood industry, and many fires occur there every year.

He also said the number of “hotspots” detected by satellites — areas of intense heat that are either already on fire or vulnerable to going up in flames — had increased in West Kalimantan province, on Indonesia’s part of Borneo island.

A total of 158 hotspots were detected in the province on Friday, up from 106 a day earlier.

The governor of the province, a centre of the palm oil industry, had asked the disaster agency to provide helicopters for water-bombing and “cloud-seeding”, or chemically inducing rain, said Nugroho.

Indonesia has faced intense criticism from its neighbours and the international community over its failure to halt the annual smog outbreaks.

Jakarta has promised tougher action. It has announced a plan to stop granting new land for palm oil plantations, and established an agency to restore millions of hectares of carbon-rich peatlands susceptible to fires.

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Palm oil companies ditch landmark Indonesian ‘zero deforestation’ pact

July 2, 2016

By Arlina Arshad, Indonesia Correspondent and David Fogarty Assistant Foreign Editor
The Straits Times

Major palm oil companies that backed a landmark Indonesian “zero deforestation” pact on green practices have now ditched it in favour of less strict standards, triggering criticism the companies have caved into Indonesian government pressure.

The companies signed the 2014 Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge, or Ipop, in an agreement hailed as boosting efforts to fight rampant deforestation and annual forest fires and the haze. As part of the pledge, the firms, which include top palm oil producers and traders, pledged no development of peatlands of any depth. Peatland fires are a major source of the haze.

But on Friday (July 1), the companies said Ipop had run its course and was no longer needed. They supported the Indonesian government’s efforts to “transform the palm oil sector” and to strengthen the country’s own certification standards called the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil, or Ispo.

“Ipop signatories have decided that recent groundbreaking policy developments in Indonesia have fulfilled the purpose of Ipop to help accelerate and promote this transformation toward sustainability and therefore its presence can be dissolved,” the grouping said in a statement on Friday. They pointed to government actions that included the creation of a peatland restoration agency.

The Ipop companies are Wilmar International, Golden Agri Resources (GAR), Cargill, Asian Agri, Musim Mas and Astra Agro Lestari.

The Ispo, which is mandatory, bans land-clearing in primary forests and peatlands. The Ipop, which is voluntary, goes further by banning land-clearing in secondary forests and bushland that has high carbon content.

Green groups have condemned the move, saying the firms were only caving in to government’s pressure.

The Agriculture Ministry earlier this year complained that the Ipop was hurting smallholder producers who could not afford to adopt sustainable forestry practices under the pledge. The Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) had alleged that as a result, a cartel-like monopoly is created by the signatories.

Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Annisa Rahmawati said in a statement on Friday that “the government officials have bullied and threatened Ipop members”.

“The Ministry of Agriculture needs to get its priorities right. Last year’s forest fires crippled Indonesia’s economy and poisoned people across the region,” she said.

The haze crisis blamed on forest fires in Indonesia last year were the worst in the nation’s history by several measures, causing widespread illness and billions of dollars in losses to the economy.

Ms Annisa urged government officials to urgently work towards delivering President Joko Widodo’s plans to stop forest fires by halting the palm oil industry’s expansion into forests and peatlands.

The Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that the Ispo is “a single standard for sustainable palm in Indonesia” and will adopt international best practices which are in line with the country’s laws.

Cargill said in a statement: “With the affirmative action by Indonesia towards a sustainable palm oil sector, Cargill supports the dissolution of Ipop.”

In a statement, Wilmar International said it welcomed the Indonesian government’s initiative to lead the country’s palm oil industry towards more environmentally friendly development.

“In the past year, the Government of Indonesia (GOI) has shown much leadership in strengthening its sustainability policies. These include the moratorium on peatland development and the creation of the National Peat Restoration Agency, the moratorium on new permits for oil palm plantations, as well as progress on the legal protection of High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. All these actions are clear indications of the GOI’s resolve to progress towards a sustainable palm oil sector.”

Wilmar said given these developments, “IPOP as an entity is no longer required”. But it stressed it would continue its zero-deforestation, no peat, no fires and no exploitation policies as before.

Mr Glenn Hurowitz, senior fellow at Washington-based Centre for International Policies, said the need for robust industry and government action to protect Indonesia’s forests and people is “as urgent as ever”.

“If the palm oil, paper, and rubber industries want to avoid a repeat of the haze disaster, they will need to team up to create comprehensive, transparent implementation mechanisms,” he said.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/palm-oil-companies-ditch-landmark-indonesian-zero-deforestation-pact

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Fires raged on peatlands on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Indonesia, on Nov 1.
Fires raged on peatlands on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Indonesia, on Nov 1, 2015. Photo: Getty Images
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Singapore Central Business District, or CBD skyline is covered with a thick haze.
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An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

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Indonesia hits back at Singapore in latest haze row

June 13, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | Forest fires in Indonesia produced acrid smog that shrouded Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the region for weeks in 2015

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia insisted Monday Singapore cannot take legal action against its citizens over the haze that choked Southeast Asia last year after the city-state sought to question the director of an Indonesian company.

Forest fires in Indonesia produced acrid smog that shrouded Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the region for weeks, pushing air quality to unhealthy levels, causing many to fall ill and disrupting air travel.

The blazes are an annual occurrence during the dry season as land is cleared using slash-and-burn methods but they were the worst for years in 2015, with Singapore particularly angered at what it said was Jakarta’s failure to take action.

Tempers have frayed again after Singapore last month attempted to call in the director of an Indonesian company suspected of being linked to the haze for questioning, Singaporean media reported, citing the National Environment Agency.

The director of the firm did not turn up for the interview with Singaporean authorities despite being served with a legal notice and has since left the city-state, the reports said. The agency did not name the individual or the firm.

Singapore is seeking to take legal action under a 2014 law that allows for cross-border prosecutions but Indonesia hit back Monday at the latest move.

“We do not agree with this Singaporean idea,” Husain Abdullah, spokesman for Vice President Jusuf Kalla, told AFP.

“As it happened in Indonesia, it’s part of Indonesia’s jurisdiction.

“If Singapore could easily try Indonesian citizens, it could be a violation of Indonesia’s sovereignty.”

He said that Indonesia had made substantial progress in preparing for this year’s fires, with the dry season expected to begin in the coming weeks.

The 2014 law allows Singapore to levy heavy fines on local or foreign companies that contribute to unhealthy levels of haze pollution in the city-state.

Singapore has also given notices to six Indonesian-based firms, asking them to explain what they are doing to put out fires on their land.

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Fires raged on peatlands on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Indonesia, on Nov 1.
Fires raged on peatlands on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Indonesia, on Nov 1, 2015. Photo: Getty Images
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Singapore Central Business District, or CBD skyline is covered with a thick haze.
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An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

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Singapore taking action against companies responsible for haze

April 21, 2016

By Zakir Hussain, Deputy News Editor (Politics), in Tel Aviv
The Straits Times

People walking on the street during a hazy day in Singapore on Sept 10, 2015. PHOTO from THE NEW PAPER

TEL AVIV – Singapore is taking action under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to go after companies that started fires or let their concessions burn, and contributed to last year’s haze, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has said.

It has issued notices to six of these Indonesia-based companies, asking them to explain what steps they are taking to put out and prevent fires on their land.

Two of them have replied. A director of one of the four firms that have yet to respond has also been served with a notice to provide information on what his company is doing to mitigate fires on its land and prevent a repeat.

“He has left, but he is required to return,” Mr Masagos told reporters.

“Should he not return, he would have violated our laws and therefore, among others, we can arrest him upon entry later than the notice on which he is supposed to return,” he added.

Mr Masagos declined to reveal the name of the director or his company, but said he can also be detained in Singapore if he does not give the information required.

“We must not let companies, corporations get away with their most egregious acts,” he said.

Mr Masagos made these points when asked by Singapore reporters about comments by his Indonesian counterpart questioning what Singapore had done to combat forest fires.

Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had told environmental news site Foresthints.news last week that her country had been attempting to prevent the recurrence of land and forest fires, and consistently enforcing the law.

“My question is – what has the Singaporean Government done? I feel that they should focus on their own role,” she was cited saying.

Mr Masagos noted that Singapore has a good relationship with Indonesia on many fronts because both countries are working together.

But he said the haze was a complex issue that had to be tackled not just bilaterally, but also at the Asean and regional level.

For instance, Singapore led an Asean peatland management programme to raise awareness of what people can do to manage and restore peatland, on which most forest fires take place.

The National Environment Agency had served notice to Asia Pulp and Paper last year, asking for information on steps its subsidiaries and Indonesian suppliers are taking to put out fires in their concessions.

“We are now looking at them to see how we are going to move forward,” Mr Masagos said.

But he would not be drawn into commenting on what actions could be taken against the companies, saying investigations are still ongoing.

“The message to everybody is: whether you are Singaporean, whether you are a foreigner, if you violate our laws, we will take the law to its full extent.”

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Fires raged on peatlands on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Indonesia, on Nov 1.
Fires raged on peatlands on the outskirts of Palangkaraya, Indonesia, on Nov 1, 2015. Photo: Getty Images
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Singapore Central Business District, or CBD skyline is covered with a thick haze.
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An Indonesian woman and a child walk on a bamboo bridge as thick yellow haze shrouds Palangkaraya on Oct 22, 2015. AFP photo

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