Growing hot spots on Sumatra raise fears of haze returning

Growing hot spots on Sumatra raise fears of haze returning

SINGAPORE - Singapore has registered its concerns to the Indonesian authorities over the rising number of hot spots amid fears of a repeat of last month's haze episode.

Indonesia has acknowledged that there has been "new sporadic burning". There were 252 fire hot spots on Sumatra on Monday, including 167 in the province of Riau, said the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Last month, when the haze was at its worst, there were more than 400 fires on Sumatra.

NEA chief executive Ronnie Tay has contacted the appropriate ministers in Indonesia to express Singapore's concerns and extend assistance to detect and put out the fires early. Indonesia's deputy minister for environment and social vulnerability, coordinating ministry for people's welfare, Mr Willem Rampangilei, admitted that there has been "new sporadic burning".

An NEA spokesman said: "He assured Mr Tay that the Indonesian government is monitoring the situation and taking various actions on the ground to suppress the fires, such as cloud seeding and water bombing efforts.

"He added that law enforcement and socialisation efforts on the ground have been strengthened, and the deployment of additional police and troops to the Riau area will be considered urgently in a high-level inter-agency meeting."

Cloud seeding is done to induce rain to help put out the fires.

Singapore's air quality until 4pm on Tuesday is expected to be good to moderate, although this could change with the wind, the NEA said. Lately, it has been blowing in a southerly direction, buffeting any haze away from the Republic.

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