Haze hotspots spiked after falling in past six years: Balakrishnan
After falling steadily in the past six years, the number of haze causing hotspots in Indonesia, has suddenly spiked to numbers that now exceed those in 2006.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said this is a "considerable backslide".
And Singapore, as chair of the sub-regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution, is actively promoting regional collaboration to address the haze problem.
A new initiative the committee is looking into is using satellite mapping to identify companies whose concession areas see excessive fire outbreaks.
"There are several evidential difficulties with this. First, if you actually look at the list of concession map, you will realise that there is a whole web of companies, shell companies, subsidiaries, joint ventures, and a variety of business arrangements, behind the clearing of land and the planting of oil palms, so that's first level. Second level, is that, actually in order to achieve prosecution in court, you need to have caught the person in the act, circumstantial evidence on its own, probability may not be sufficient. The third difficulty is that, these are local crimes and need to be prosecuted in local jurisdiction."
"So what we can do more of now is to introduce more transparency, list out who owns which pieces of land, list out the number of hot spots which are occurring, in real time, in those pieces of land and then, after that, this requires the involvement of the consumer groups, of non-government organisations, international organisations, who all have a stake in this value chain, I think that's the only effective way, because, you can pass all the laws you like in the respective governments, but if you can't enforce your laws, and you can't ensure that people comply with regulations and rules which are common sense, this problem will keep recurring".
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