Haze: Land concession maps not made public

Haze: Land concession maps not made public

SINGAPORE - The five Asean countries affected by the recent haze crisis could not agree on making land concession maps public to identify errant companies, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Wednesday.

"It is a pity that we could not get greater transparency and public access," he wrote in his Facebook post after the 15th Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution in Kuala Lumpur.

He said Singapore has developed a computerised haze monitoring system that would combine hot-spot data, high-resolution satellite pictures and concession maps to help hold companies accountable for fires in their areas.

Transparency

"In the interests of transparency, we wanted to make this tool available for public use. Unfortunately, several governments objected to the publication of land concession maps, citing legal impediments.

"After intense consultations, we compromised and the governments agreed to share such data at a government-to-government level subject to the Asean Leaders' approval in October 2013," he said.

He also added that several non-governmental organisations have already published concession maps and Singapore will continue to work with these organisations to maximise consumer pressure on errant companies.

Indonesia is the only member of Asean yet to ratify a 2002 regional agreement on transboundary haze pollution, but Indonesian Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya said his government is seeking approval from legislature by early next year.

Haze in Singapore & Malaysia
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, TNP, The Star, AFP, Reuters)

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