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April 9, 2008

Region warned of dry spells in Q3

Asean’s environment ministers warned of an unusually dry spell probably in the third quarter of this year caused by forest fires as they expressed satisfaction at Indonesia's efforts to address haze pollution.

The effects of the La Nina weather phenomenon are expected to wear off in the third quarter of 2008, which could result in arid conditions, the ministers said, quoting a forecast from the Asean Meteorological Centre.

At the fourth meeting of the sub regional ministerial steering committee on trans-boundary haze pollution held in Putrajaya, Malaysia, chairman Rachmat Witoelar, who is also Indonesian environment minister, said the number of hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan last year fell by 51 percent compared to 2006.

"We are not going to delude ourselves that we are going to wipe out all the haze. There will be some burning, some haze," he said.

Indonesia has decided to significantly raise the amount of budget allocations by 800 billion rupiah this year to cope with forest and bush fires.

Environment ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand attended The two-day meeting which opened on Monday.

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