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Monday October 16, 2006

Cloud-seeding proving costly for Sarawak


MIRI: Cloud-seeding operations to induce rain to clear the haze from Kalimantan has burnt a hole in the state government's pocket. 

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam, who is state Disaster Relief Committee chairman, said daily flights had to be made to search for rain clouds. 

“Each trip costs at least RM50,000. Every day we had to conduct several trips to find rain-bearing clouds in the sky. 

“If for the past 10 days, we have to fly twice a day, imagine the cost we have to incur,” he said.  

Dr Chan said he was glad that cloud-seeding operations had been successful to a large extent. 

He hoped Asean would resolve the haze problem. 

“Sarawak is always the worst-hit every time the haze comes around.  

“The state government has already ensured that open burning be drastically reduced, but there is nothing we can do about the haze from Kalimantan because we do not have the jurisdiction to deal with the Indonesian government. 

“This issue is a federal issue. Only the Federal Government in Kuala Lumpur can negotiate with the Indonesian government to resolve this issue,” Dr Chan told reporters at his office here yesterday. 

He said he was glad that cloud-seeding operations had been successful to a large extent.  

The worst of the haze may be over for this year in Sarawak, he said. 

“The wind direction is expected to change soon. We are still in the inter-monsoon phase. Once this is over, we will not have to worry about any more severe haze,” he added. 

As for the situation in Kalimantan, Dr Chan said more than 600 hotspots were detected on Friday, but the situation had improved.  

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