The Haze: How to live with smoke first-hand every year?

INDONESIA - What is it like to live with smoke first-hand every year?

On Saturday, The New Paper spent 12 hours looking for hot spots and trying to find out the identity of the farmers who practise the slash-and-burn method to clear their plantations.

But these questions went unanswered as many of the villagers we spoke to claimed they did not know who the farmers or the plantation owners were.

These plantations are also massive - it takes about two hours to get from one end to the other.

Housewife Lina Nomi, 34, who lives at Bukit Banterem in Dumai - about 177km north of Pekanbaru - said that she is used to living with the thick blanket of smoke that surrounds her village every year.

"It's been a month of haze and it angers me that the government has not done much to ease the situation," she said in Bahasa Indonesia.

"Our eyes hurt but we are poor people and we don't even have enough money for food sometimes, let alone spend money on masks and medicine."

Low visibility

Visibility in this part of Dumai, where the PSI hit 492 on Friday morning last week, continues to be low with no signs of clearing.

Nearby Pinang Kampai Airport in Dumai, which serves most domestic flights, was closed last week because of low visibility.

Madam Lina said residents in the area are resigned to the fact that the haze is becoming an annual event.

But don't just blame the farmers, she said.

"Those farmers have a job to do and they report to someone, so it's not fair to just blame them for everything," she said.

"Now the situation is bad no one will tell you who is a farmer but the government should set rules so we, the little people, don't suffer any more."