Haze, Malaysia: Open burning in haze-hit Klang carried out by immigrants, poor landowners

LAILI ISMAIL New Straits Times 6 Aug 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Open burning activities in Johan Setia, Klang which have contributed to haze in the area have been motivated by economic necessity, the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry (NRE) said today.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said an investigation by the Environment Department (DOE) and the Klang Municipal Council found that the haze in the peatland area was caused by the open burning of bushes and rubbish by immigrants who were employed by landowners in the area.

“The cause of opening burning in Johan Setia is economic. The people (there) break the law because they are trying to survive.

“(But) this has also affected the people around Klang, including Jalan Kebun, the Kesas Highway, Bandar Puteri, Bandar Putera and Kota Kemuning.

“It is unfortunate that irresponsible parties always burn during the dry season, and this further compounds the issue,” he said in a statement today.

Wan Junaidi said the LRT 3 project from Johan Setia to Bandar Utama, which is currently under construction, will hopefully spur development in the area and gradually put a stop to the open burning.

He said the DOE has taken many mitigating measures, including activating the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan, which saw daily patrols conducted in affected areas since February; and the issuance of show-cause letters to errant local councils responsible for domestic dumpsites.

“Between 2011 and 2017, 47 investigation papers were opened and 43 open burning cases were filed in court. Four more cases are currently being investigated.

“The total amount of compounds and penalties charged for the open burning cases in Johan Setia is RM78,400,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said the DOE has also set up the Pollution Monitoring Team which recruits local residents to help monitor and report open burning activities.

“The Department welcomes any information on open burning cases. Complaints on open burning are investigated immediately

“If no person is found at the site where the fires are burning, further investigation will be carried out to identify the landowner, in which case, enforcement action will be taken under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” he added.

Sarawak has most forest and land fires in Malaysia
MEI MEI CHU The Star 6 Aug 17;

PETALING JAYA: Sarawak recorded over 860 Modis (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) fire alerts from Jan 1 to Aug 1, said fire-monitoring platform Global Forest Watch Fires (GFW Fires).

This places Sarawak as the state with the highest number of forest and land fires in Malaysia, ahead of Sabah (which recorded 241 Modis fire alerts), Pahang (54), Terengganu (37), and Selangor (26).

The Sarawak districts with the highest number of forest and land fires were Bahagian Miri (Long Lama), Belaga, Kapit and Bintulu.

GFW Fires’ real-time report also indicated that the number of fire alerts in Malaysia has gone down by 70% compared with 2016.

Charts showed that 4,673 Modis fire alerts were recorded between January and July 2016, while the corresponding months for 2017 recorded only 1,342 alerts.

Modis is a satellite-imagery instrument on board two Nasa scientific research satellites that are currently orbiting the Earth.

GFW Fires combines real-time satellite data from Nasa’s Active Fires system, high-resolution satellite imagery, detailed maps of land cover and concessions for key commodities such as palm oil and wood pulp, weather conditions and air quality data to track fire activity in the region.

It was recently reported that wildfires and open burning woes were returning to Miri and Kuala Baram, with concerns that farmers and plantation workers were taking advantage of the dry season to clear agricultural land by setting dry bushes on fire.

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