Land use map to tackle Singapore haze problem

Land use map to tackle Singapore haze problem

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Singapore: Singapore will seek several concrete outcomes at an ASEAN haze meeting in Kuala Lumpur, and topping the agenda is an urgent push for Indonesia to provide official and accurate land concession maps.

These maps, combined with satellite technology, will be instrumental in holding companies or individuals who clear land by burning it, said Singapore”s Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

“Without those maps, it’s very difficult for me to point fingers … authoritatively, bearing in mind that these activities occur in another sovereign land.”

Smoke haze is an annual problem for Singapore and its northern neighbour, Malaysia, often beginning midyear, when farmers in Indonesia seek to clear land cheaply by starting fires. It sometimes causes diplomatic strains as Malaysia and Singapore urge Indonesia to do more to prevent illegal burning.

Last month, air pollution from illegal burning of forests and peat lands in Indonesia led to the worst haze in Singapore”s history. The annual haze in Singapore worsened to unprecedented levels, with the three-hourly Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hitting a record 401 on June 21. Air becomes hazardous when the index crosses 300.

Source: The Star