Malaysia: Haze our own doing

The Star 24 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: If the heat and dry spell were not enough, little hotspots here and there made up of forest fires and open burning, are now causing poor air quality in Malaysia’s central region.

Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the haze was originating from within our borders, rather than from Indonesia.

According to the Department of Environment, air quality has plunged in the Klang Valley. Port Klang and Cheras reported unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

Air quality in the northern and southern regions, as well as Sabah and Sarawak, reported low moderate to good levels.

Fire and Rescue Department officers said they were working around the clock, putting themselves at great risk to put out the fires, mostly man-made, and hard to get to.

In Selangor, Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general (Operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid said the biggest contributor to the air pollution now was a 12ha forest reserve in Tanjung Sepat, Banting, that caught fire due to illegal pineapple farming activities.

“We have had to use helicopters to water bomb these areas. These people are smart now, they go deep into the forest to do their farming. This is not right and it is contributing to the bad air quality,” he said.

Besides that, Bomba also reported fires in dump sites around the Klang Valley, suggesting that open burning was being done by citizens.

He urged people to stop open burning, saying that fires in dump sites were a hazard to firemen trying to put them out as the department reported another 23 hotspots – all in peninsular Malaysia.

Pahang reported the most fires at 15, of which nine were in Pekan.

Johor reported large fires in Mersing, Segamat and Kluang, while Kedah, Kelantan, Negri Sembilan and Terengganu reported one hotspot each.

Fires are also occurring in neighbouring Riau, which the Meteorological Department said could become a problem for us in May when the south-west monsoon winds bring smog from Indonesia to Malaysia.

In Miri, unscrupulous people have been starting massive fires at night to either clear forest land for agricultural purposes or to get rid of plantation waste although these fires are a threat to the environment and health.

As in the peninsula, firemen here are being hampered by the size of the fires and the fact that they are in hard to reach areas.

Sarawak assistant communications minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who visited the Tudan Watchtower, said the Department of Environ­ment would be calling for cloud seeding.

“These fires are in hard to reach forests. We need to carry out cloud seeding urgently.

“If we can induce rain to fall, it will help douse the numerous fires that are raging in various parts of Kuala Baram district and southern parts of Miri district near to Marudi and the Niah areas,” he said.

Folks in Miri breathing smog due to forest fires
STEPHEN THEN The Star 23 Apr 16;

MIRI: Unscrupulous people are resorting to open burning during the night to clear forest land either for agricultural purposes or to get rid of plantation refuse.

Such illegal open burning activities are posing a serious threat to the environment and human health.

Residents have to breathe in smog for long periods of time especially during the night and early morning due to incidents of open burning in northern Sarawak.

The Fire and Rescue Department is working round-the-clock to extinguish the fires but their attempts are being hampered by the scale of the raging fires as well as poor road access.

State assistant minister for communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin (pic) said the Department of Environment will request for cloud seeding operations.

"We will need to carry out cloud seeding urgently. This will hopefully induce rain to help snuff out the numerous fires that are raging in various parts of Kuala Baram district and the southern parts of Miri district near Marudi and the Niah areas," he said during a visit to the Tudan Watchtower here.

He also called for stricter surveillance to nab the culprits responsible for these open burnings.

Miri city still shrouded in haze
STEPHEN THEN The Star 24 Apr 16;

MIRI: Miri city continues to be shrouded in a veil of haze caused by smog from wildfires raging in the outskirts.

As of Sunday noon, the city skyline from Canada Hill looks blurry.

The South China Sea fronting the town was no longer visible.

On Saturday night, the haze enveloping the city was thick and choking.

Parts of northern Sarawak and Brunei are seeing raging forest fires in plantations and forested land caused by unscrupulous open burning.

Schools to be closed if API over 200
The Star 24 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Schools will be closed if the haze continues to worsen, says Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

He said schools would be closed if the API exceeded 200.

With the haze expected to worsen this week, the ministry has set up an operations room to monitor the situation.

“We’ll receive daily reports from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry on the haze from tomorrow and then we’ll decide whether there is a need to close schools.

“The Cabinet committee on the haze is chaired by the Natural Resources and Environment Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar),” he told a press conference after St John’s Institution’s academic excellence award ceremony here yesterday.

There will also be no replacements if the closure lasted less than five days.

Marine police: It’s business as usual despite conditions
The Star 24 Apr 16;

Rayani Air founder blasts employees planning takeover
KLANG: The haze has slowed down the marine police’s speed but not the frequency of their patrols along the coast of Selangor.

Port Klang Marine police operations commander DSP Ahmad Shafiki Hussin said yesterday the hazy weather in the past three days affected the usual clear visibility of between 500m and 2km at sea.

“My officers have reported that visibility had been reduced to between 100m and 200m in the morning. Therefore we have to reduce the vessels' speed to 10 times slower than our usual speed while patrolling the waters,” he said.

However, DSP Ahmad Shafiki said this did not mean that the frequency of their patrols had decreased.

“We have special measures to deal with situations like this in our operating procedure.

“The measures include protecting our assets and personnel under trying situations.

“Although it has become more complex to deal with because of the haze, it is not an excuse for us to slow down or cut back on our surveillance and enforcement.

“It's business as usual for us,” he added.

No comments:

Post a Comment