Malaysia: Forest fires and open burning adding to air pollution

HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM The Star 26 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Several places in Selangor, Terengganu and Pahang have become contributors to the air pollution due to forest fires and open burning.

Most of the open burning were in illegal dumpsites and plantations, said Selangor Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general (Operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid.

“There are three cases in Selangor, one is a forest reserve in Kuala Langat, Tanjung Sepat while the other is an illegal dumpsite in Jalan Kuari Bukit Kapar.

“The third case is in Bukit Kemandul, which is a plantation. These cases are man-made problems because they have been clearing the vegetation,” he said.

Soiman said the department has been conducting operations round the clock to control the situation.

He said the department was working with other agencies and departments such as the Geoscience and Mineral Department, local councils, Malaysian Civil Defence Department, Rela and the various state forestry departments.

Thus far, Soiman said, the situation was under control, however, open burning has been ongoing at an illegal dumpsite in Jalan Kuari since April 18.

Soiman said that in Pahang, Ladang Felcra Serambi and Nenasi have also contributed to the air pollution with land clearing in these two plantation areas.

In Terengganu, there have been cases of peat fires in four areas, namely at Kampung Alor Tempoyak, Dungun; Kampung Chabang, Kerteh; Teluk Kalong in Kemaman and Kampung Durian Guling.

There was also a forest fire recorded in Jalan Mersing Endau, Johor.

According to Soiman the cloudy weather and cloud seeding efforts have been helpful for the operations.

“The rain will not completely douse the fire but it is helping our officers by preventing them from getting heat stroke,” he added.

Soiman advised people to stop open burning, adding that the El Nino phenomenon would cause the fire to spread.

The air pollutant index (API) as of 5pm yesterday showed good and moderate readings nationwide.

Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the department was expecting more afternoon rain and thunderstorms during the inter-monsoon season, which was expected to last at least until mid May.

She said cloud seeding was still being carried out, especially in the peninsular.

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