Haze condition worsens in Singapore (Source: straitstimes.com)

International cooperation is needed to tackle the worsening haze, said Singapore Minister of Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 on September 27.

He stressed the action would prevent companies from profiting from unsustainable land or forest clearing, thus precluding land degradation and biodiversity loss.

The minister’s speech came as air quality in Singapore reached unhealthy levels due to forest fires in Indonesia over the past three weeks. The country had to close its schools on September 25 after the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) reached a “toxic level” of 340 PSI . It has also initiated legal actions against five companies it believes to be behind the fires.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, a dialogue between Minister of National Defence Ryamizard Ryacudu and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan, and Singapore’s Minister of National Defence Ng Eng Hen was held on September 28- 29 to discuss the situation.

Speaking at the meeting, the Singaporean minister reaffirmed his nation’s armed forces are willing to support its neighbouring country’s efforts to get the haze under control.

To date, 127 ignition points have been found in Sumatra, Indonesia ,causing the dense haze in the central and southern areas of Sumatra and part of Singapore’s seas.

On September 28, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), said dry weather, water shortages and major fires are challenging local fire-fighting forces.-VNA