Indonesia's neighbours, blanketed by smoke haze from forest fires three months ago, were yesterday preparing plans to tackle the return of the chronic smoke. As air-quality worsened in Singapore - amid reports more than 500 fires were raging across Sarawak and Indonesian Kalimantan - the city state said it would re-form its anti-haze taskforce. The group, consisting of 21 government agencies, will draw up a precautionary action plan. 'This forms part of the Government's efforts to ensure full preparedness to deal with any impending smoke haze problem that we may face in a timely and effective manner,' a Department of Environment spokesman said. In the past few days, Singapore's air pollution index has fallen below 'healthy' levels and it is feared dense haze could hit the region by April. Skies were clear yesterday in Kuching, capital of Malaysia's Sarawak state, which is hosting meetings on haze and other pollution issues this week - but the north of the state was getting a taste of the latest outbreak of haze. Smoke from forest fires in northern Sarawak and neighbouring Indonesian Kalimantan has settled over areas from the Malaysian coastal town of Miri in the west to Indonesia's border in the east. A Kuching journalist said people in the area were resigned to months of haze in the second half of the year. A state of emergency was declared in Sarawak for several days last September because of the severity of the haze. Malaysia's Environment Minister, Law Hieng Ding, yesterday opened the international meeting on hazardous wastes in Kuching and today he will open the second Association of Southeast Asian Nations Environmental Ministerial Meeting on Haze in the city. The ministers will discuss strategies to combat the problem. In Jakarta, Willy Smits, adviser to the Indonesian Forestry Minister, said: 'At the moment the haze is all above Kalimantan but in a week the rainfall and wind direction will change so there will be a change around to Malaysia and Singapore.' He blamed the fires on 'people who were getting hungry' who had burned off more forest to extend their crops. The head of a German-funded fire-fighter training programme in Indonesia said the fires were too big and widespread to contain.