Title: “Indonesia Denies Air Quality Impact on Malaysia as Forest Fires Continue”
By Ananda Teresia (Jakarta) and Danial Azhar (Kuala Lumpur)
In the midst of mounting concerns over high pollution levels in Malaysia caused by haze from forest fires in Indonesia, the Indonesian environment ministry has formally denied any adverse effect on its neighboring country’s air quality. Malaysia had previously issued a warning, attributing the trans-boundary haze to the forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo.
Responding to the accusations, Indonesia’s Environment Minister stated that no haze had been detected traveling to Malaysia or any other neighboring country. The ministry emphasized that its focus remains on extinguishing forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo, utilizing water bombing techniques from helicopters.
Despite the severity of the situation, Malaysia has not yet filed a diplomatic complaint regarding the haze. However, the impact of this year’s dry season, exacerbated by the El Nino weather pattern, has been declared the most severe since 2019.
Forest fires, a longstanding issue in Indonesia, are frequently initiated by farmers as a means to clear land for plantations. The El Nino weather pattern has made it even more challenging to combat the fires this year. As a result, over 267,900 hectares of forests have already been burned, surpassing the total for the entirety of 2022.
The repercussions of the haze extend beyond air quality concerns. Several cities in Sumatra and Borneo have reported visibility of less than 10 meters. In response to the severe pollution levels, remote learning has been implemented for students in Palembang and Jambi cities in southern Sumatra.
The situation continues to be closely monitored by Ananda Teresia in Jakarta and Danial Azhar in Kuala Lumpur, with updates expected as efforts to contain the fires progress.
As the forest fires in Indonesia persist and the haze affects neighboring countries, concerns over air quality and its impact on public health remain paramount. Efforts to combat these fires and mitigate the adverse effects on the environment and population are crucial.
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