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Indonesia takes heat for haze crisis

Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 01:36

June 20 - Companies warned of action over illegal forest fires in Indonesia whose smoke is choking neighbouring nations. Paul Chapman reports.

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The smoke blanketing Singapore from illegal forest burning in Indonesia is the worst on record. The Pollution Standards Index hit a new high on Thursday. It means the air quality in the city-state is hazardous. Singapore's prime minister is vowing to target any domestic firms linked to those involved. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SINGAPORE PRIME MINISTER, LEE HSIEN LOONG, SAYING: "If any Singapore companies are involved or any companies which are present in Singapore are involved then we will take up this matter with the companies." People in Singapore were struggling to cope with the smoky atmosphere. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SINGAPORE RESIDENT WHO IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS LEE SAYING: "The air is really quite bad and I do have some difficulty breathing, especially outdoors." (SOUNDBITE) (English) SINGAPORE RESIDENT BERNADETTE BRADLEY, SAYING: "It's affected all my eyes and it's just so bad I've never experienced anything like it." The small airport at Pekanbaru in the Riau province of Indonesia was forced to halt operation for an hour on Thursday because of the haze. The country's foreign minister is promising action over the illegal burning intended to make way for palm oil plantations. (SOUNDBITE)(English) MARTY NATALEGAWA, INDONESIA'S FOREIGN MINISTER, SAYING: "If there are any companies, national or foreign, who have been involved in any slash and burning activities then they must be held to account ." During 1997 and 98 the haze was so bad it disrupted air and sea traffic causing losses put at nine billion dollars. The problem is a recurrent one. Indonesia signed an agreement on cross-border haze pollution in 2002 but it has yet to ratify the deal.

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Indonesia takes heat for haze crisis

Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 01:36