Air pollution in Kalimantan, Sumatra at one of the lowest levels since August

At 8am local time, PSI in Palembang (above, in a file photo from Oct 29, 2015) peaked at 237, while other areas on Sumatra island were in the moderate zone.
At 8am local time, PSI in Palembang (above, in a file photo from Oct 29, 2015) peaked at 237, while other areas on Sumatra island were in the moderate zone. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

JAKARTA - Cities across Kalimantan and Sumatra, which have been shrouded by the haze for months, are finally breathing easy with air pollution at possibly one of the lowest levels since the crisis started in August.

On Monday (Nov 2) morning, all but one capital city monitored by Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) for its Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings, were out of the "'unhealthy" zone for the first time since the crisis started.

At 8am local time, PSI in Palembang, the capital city of South Sumatra, peaked at 237, which is considered unhealthy. Other areas on Sumatra island such as Medan, Pekanbaru, Jambi, however, recorded mostly under 120 - a moderate zone - for most of the morning.

It was the same in Kalimantan, which together with Sumatra were the two worst hit regions by the haze this year.

PSI in Central Kalimantan capital Palangkaraya, which made the news for recording four-digit PSI levels just last week, was 70 at 9am.

The authorities have attributed the improved conditions to a sporadic but heavy downpour which started early last week.

To take advantage of the increased cloud cover over the two islands, the Indonesian government has ramped up cloudseeding operations to create artificial rain in a bid to put out the lingering fires still burning over forest and peatland.