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Asean urges Indonesia to sign pollution pact

Asean members are calling on Indonesia to ratify the grouping's Transboundary Haze Pollution agreement in a bid to control the impact of air pollution caused by forest fires.

"The Indonesian government has postponed the ratification of this agreement several times already. It should sign up because this collaboration will help Asean countries deal with the pollution cause by forest fires, especially in Indonesia," Supat Wangwongwattana, director general of the Pollution Control Department, said.

Supat was speaking at the Subregional Ministerial Steering Committee's 12th meeting on Transboundary Haze Pollution held in Bangkok yesterday. Also present at the meeting were several senior environment officials from other countries in the region.

"We have sent many official letters to the Indonesian government asking them to control the haze caused by forest fires, but there has been no formal response from the authorities. Hence, we do not have any answers for our people," Supat explained.

In 2006, more than 29,000 hotspots were detected in Indonesia, and though the number dropped to 8,000 in 2010, it rose again to 17,000 this year.

Every year, during the months of August and September, four provinces in the South of Thailand are covered in smoke from Indonesian forest fires, causing respiratory problems among the residents.

Arief Yuwono, from the Indonesian Environment Ministry's Degradation Control and Climate Change, told the meeting that his government had implemented a plan to deal with haze pollution, which included the prevention and control of forest and land fires. The government has also strengthened lawenforcement measures and will conduct a zeroburning campaign, he said, adding that new laws on plantation, environment and forestry would be enforced among relevant stakeholders.

Source : http://news.asiaone.com

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