THE Department of Environment (DOE) would like to thank Foon Weng Lian for his letter "Carry out cloud seeding" (NST, June 22).
DOE would like to inform Foon that the government has taken all steps to mitigate transboundary haze.
The Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution was signed in 2002. All member countries had signed and ratified the agreement, except Indonesia. Following a haze episode in 2006, a Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution was established to implement short- and long-term measures to tackle land and forest fires.
Under MSC, Indonesia had shown its commitment to reduce the number of hot spots due to land and forest fires by implementing a Plan of Action (POA), with a 20 per cent target for reduction of hot spots based on 2006 data.
POA spells out measures on prevention, fire suppression, surveillance, early warning and monitoring, regional and international assistance and collaboration.
In this aspect, bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia was carried out from 2008 to 2009, whereby a memorandum of agreement was signed in 2008 to implement programmes and activities to reduce land and forest fires in Riau, Sumatra.
On the feasibility of carrying out cloud seeding to contain and clear the haze, DOE and the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD) would like to inform readers that cloud seeding is carried out to boost rain on a local scale.
It is a relatively expensive operation and requires suitable clouds to be successful.
Under the National Haze Action Plan, one of the actions is for MMD to carry out cloud seeding when the air pollution index exceeds 101 for more than 72 hours.
However, since the induced rain is on a local scale, DOE can only help to lessen the severity of the haze on a local scale and would not be able to stop it from occurring, especially if it is transboundary in nature.