Malaysia: Klang Valley haze due to forest, peat fires

FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR New Straits Times 22 Apr 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The haze enveloping several areas in the Klang Valley today is due to the forest and peat fires in the central part of the peninsular such as Selangor and Pahang.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the emission of carbon dioxide from vehicles and industries in the Klang Valley were also among the main contributors to the haze.

"The forest fires in Bekenu and Marudi, Sarawak has caused haze in Miri. "The hot and dry weather has caused an increase in fire cases which lead to haze.

"The Fire and Rescue Department is continuously battling fires and open burning cases and so far, the situation is under control." he said in a statement.

As of 12 noon, the Air Pollutant Index reading in Pelabuhan Klang and Miri breached unhealthy levels at 105 and 143, respectively.

Wan Junaidi said the Environment Department has been monitoring the fire cases from January.

The fire locations are at Mukim Beris Lalang and Mukim Beoh, Kelantan; Kuala Langat Selatan Forest Reserve, Selangor; peat swamp fire in Gunung Arong Forest Reserve, Johor; forest fire in Kampung Durian Guling, Terengganu; and forest fire in Bekenu and Marudi, Sarawak.

He said there is no influence of transboundary haze as the country is still in the monsoon transition season, expected to last until middle of May.

He reminded all parties to not carry out open burning or let their lands and premises be trespassed by irresponsible parties to conduct open burning.

KL smog caused by local fires, not Indonesian haze: Minister
Today Online 22 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR — The haze enveloping Kuala Lumpur since mid-week was due to peat and forest fires in several areas on the outskirts of the capital city, said a Malaysian minister on Friday (April 22), amid worries that the annual transboundary haze might be back.

Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the fires in Kuala Langat and Sepang in the state of Selangor were under control. But the situation was aggravated by the hot and dry weather, causing the pollutants to float in the air, he added.

“Currently, there is no influence of trans-boundary haze because the country is still in the inter-monsoon season that is expected to last until mid-May,” national news agency Bernama quoted him as saying early on Friday morning. “The fires are being doused by the Fire and Rescue Department, and they are under control.”

Transboundary haze caused by widespread fires in Indonesia blanketed the region from September to November last year and affected tens of millions of people.

The Pollutant Standards Index breached 2,000 in Central Kalimantan at one point, forcing affected Indonesian families to flee their homes for other cities. In Malaysia, schools were closed when the air quality reached unhealthy levels across many Malaysian states.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had pledged to take tough action to tackle the annual haze problem, ­including issuing a moratorium on new permits for oil palm plantations. He had also vowed to sack local military and police chiefs for uncontrolled fires in their provinces.

In recent days, large parts of the Klang Valley — which includes ­Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur, the country’s administrative capital of Putrajaya and much of Selangor — were shrouded in haze.

Port Klang, located in Selangor, registered an unhealthy reading on Malaysia’s Air Pollutant Index (API) on Friday. Earlier this week, the ­areas of Batu Muda, Cheras and Petaling Jaya — all located in the Klang Valley — registered unhealthy API readings, though they returned to moderate levels on Friday. An API reading of ­between zero and 50 indicates good air quality. API readings above 100 are considered unhealthy.

“The haze is really smelly and is giving me a headache, even though I’ve closed all the windows in my house. When is this problem ever ­going to be solved?” said ­Selangor ­resident ­Anisah Shurfa.

The hazy conditions prompted ­Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to urge the public to exercise caution and reduce outdoor activities.

“I notice that the haze has returned in several areas. I hope everybody will be careful, especially those who work or have to be outdoors. Wear masks and such. Outdoor physical activities, especially for the elderly and children, should be reduced in areas with bad haze,” he wrote on Twitter. AGENCIES


Port Klang, Miri record unhealthy readings
The Star 23 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: Port Klang and Miri have recorded unhealthy air reading under the Air Pollutant Index (API).

As at 5pm yesterday, the API readings for Port Klang stood at 106 and Miri at 144.

An API of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy), 301 and above (hazardous).

Areas which registered moderate levels were Cheras (86), Shah Alam (90), Nilai (84), Banting (82), Petaling Jaya (79) and Putrajaya (75).

Air quality in East Malaysia was generally good with Sandakan recording an API reading of 32 and Tawau (30).

In a statement released by Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Jaafar, it said the haze in the Klang Valley was chiefly due to peat fires in Selangor and Pahang.

As for Miri, the haze had been attributed to forest fires in Bekenu and Marudi.

Firemen are working hard to put out the fires.


PM advises caution over haze
The Star 22 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Following the emergence of the haze in several areas of the country, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has advised the people to exercise caution and cut down on outdoor activities.

"I notice that the haze has returned in several areas. I hope everybody will be careful, especially those who work or have to be outdoors. Wear masks and such.

"Outdoor physical activities, especially for the elderly and children, should be reduced in areas with bad haze," he said in his Twitter account.

The Department of Environment portal Friday reported unhealthy air quality in Port Klang, Selangor, and Miri, Sarawak, with the air pollutant index at 105 and 146, respectively, at 11am.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in a statement Thursday night that the haze in the Klang Valley was caused by fires in several areas in the peninsula, including peatland forests in Kuala Langat and Sepang. - Bernama


Haze hits KL, Selangor as heatwave continues to grip Malaysia
As Malaysia continues to be in the grip of the hottest weather it has ever experienced, parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur have now been hit by the haze.
Sumisha Naidu Channel NewsAsia 22 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia continues to be in the grip of the hottest weather it has ever had. In the past few weeks schools have been closed, water supplies are being rationed – and now the haze has returned to Kuala Lumpur.

But this time it is fires in peninsula Malaysia - and not neighbouring Indonesia - that are being blamed for the haze in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

An aggravating factor is the searing heat - temperatures that have sent the mercury soaring for weeks now in Malaysia. Temperatures exceeded 37°C for more than three days in the state of Perlis and parts of Pahang, forcing schools there to close on Friday (Apr 22) - not for the first time this year.

As water levels in dams dip, states like Johor in the south have begun water rationing as well - and more in the north may soon be forced to.

"We will keep the state governments informed,” said Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. “Then it's up to the states to decide whether or not water rationing is required."

Steps are being taken to keep the agriculture sector afloat a well. Hundreds of water pumps and tube wells have been sent to states like Kedah and Perlis, known for their paddy fields.

Up to 65 per cent of domestic demand for rice is met by local suppliers. More than half of that is provided from Kedah in Perlis, considered to be the rice bowl states of Malaysia. So this heat could really pose a problem to the industry.

El Nino has been taking the heat for the soaring temperatures. It is a naturally occurring climate cycle that causes extreme weather conditions - but scientists say global warming caused by human activity has exacerbated El Nino's effects.

It is a concept that has made little sense to farmers in Kedah, who live far away from the carbon emissions of factories and big cities.

“They say humans haven't taken care of the environment so it's become like this,” said a farmer in Kedah. "No, this is in God's hands, we don't determine things, it's not like we wanted this to happen."

In Kuala Lumpur, the heat is also making itself felt, and residents have responded by blasting their air-conditioners to such an extent that electricity consumption has hit an all-time high.

- CNA/rw

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