Wan Junaidi: Milder haze expected with fires under control

The Perdana Putra building is pictured shrouded in haze in Putrajaya, August 16, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The Perdana Putra building is pictured shrouded in haze in Putrajaya, August 16, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 26 — The haze this year is expected to be milder compared to last year as Indonesia does its part to contain open fires, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said yesterday there were 27 locations nationwide categorised as having good air quality, with only five to six places as moderate on the Air Pollutant Index.

“There are two to three hot spots in Sumatra and West Kalimantan in Indonesia where we can noticeably detect forest fires for the time being,” he said at his ministry’s monthly gathering.

Wan Junaidi said there were two reasons to expect a milder haze, the first being the efforts of the Indonesian authorities in curbing the forest fires.

“The Indonesian government has fulfilled the promise it made during the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution on Aug 11, having deployed its police force and fire bomber helicopter to quickly put out forest fires as soon as they are spotted,” he said.

The second factor, he said, was rainfall which was helping to make the extinguishing process easier.

“I hope the current conditions persist until we enter October at least when the wind directions change,” he said.

On the Pahang bauxite moratorium, Wan Junaidi said he would make an announcement  next week once he had an updated report on the stockpiles to be exported.

The moratorium has been extended to September 15 from its original date of July 15.

“As it stands, the cleaning procedures and environmental conditions in Kuantan are satisfactory, with many parties agreeing with what we have done,” he said.

He said the moratorium could be extended again unless the Cabinet decided otherwise.