'It's the worst haze S'pore has ever faced'

SINGAPORE - The haze hit a historic high of 401 at 12 noon yesterday afternoon.

And Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the situation can only get worse before it gets better. He said: "We expect the situation to worsen overnight, 173 hot spots were detected today."

Rain is not expected for the next few days and cloud seeding to create rain may not work. This is because there is insufficient cloud cover and we're a small island. But the ministry will keep the option open, he said.

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking during a press conference at the Environment Building in Scotts Road.

He said if the situation persists, schools which are closed for the holidays, will not reopen. A stop-work order may also be issued, depending on the severity of the haze solution.

The Ministry of Manpower has issued updated guidelines to employers on Thursday.

"It is the worst haze Singapore has ever faced," he said, adding that Singaporeans must make adjustments to their daily lives.

People with respiratory and cardiac problems, children and the elderly should avoid all outdoor activities, he added. He did not mince words when he said more people will need medical attention if the haze persists. But he said our hospitals are ready for this.

He continued to urge Indonesia to name the companies involved.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) plans to publish high-resolution photos of hot spots and their coordinates, and hope to use crowd sourcing to identify companies responsible.

"We're now at a state where nobody should pollute and make money at others' expense," he said.

Task force

The Government has also convened a task force, comprising 23 agencies, to deal with the situation and draw up contingency plans.

NEA will lead a delegation to Indonesia today to discuss the issue. They are expected to arrive at concrete solutions.

"The only real solution is to deal with the source of the problem - the indiscriminate burning of forest land and peat land, which has led to unprecedented levels of smoke and haze, and affected Singaporeans," said Dr Balakrishnan.

For more haze updates from AsiaOne, click here:

linheng@sph.com.sg


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