KLANG: After a hazy few weeks in the peninsula, Malaysians have generally woken to clear skies.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said, as of 7am yesterday, 17 areas recorded good air quality while 34 others recorded moderate levels.
He cited the haze that hit several parts of the country, especially the Klang Valley, as transboundary smoke coupled with strong winds due to the west coast monsoon near Sumatra, Indonesia.
Saying that the situation was expected to last until September, he noted that the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in Singapore had on Thursday showed moderate smoke surrounding the Riau territory in Indonesia.
“ASMC also reported that there are 37 hotspots in Sumatra and the wind direction shows that the smoke will be channelled to the west coast of the peninsula,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, he said the Department of Environment (DOE) director had on Tuesday written to the Environment Ministry in Indonesia, expressing Malaysians’ concern over the issue.
On the ministry’s effort to curb the situation locally, Palanivel said the Open Fire Prevention Action plan had been activated since February.
“Apart from increasing awareness campaigns, this plan includes prosecuting those caught for open burning and monitoring fire-prone areas,” he said.
As of Thursday, the DOE had recorded 3,973 cases related to open burning in the country. Of these, 276 cases had been compounded while warning notices were issued to 87 of them.
Selangor executive councillor in charge of environment, Elizabeth Wong, said the state is prepared for the worst-case scenario.
“Compared to the past, this time we have gone down to the district level to activate the District Disaster Committees to coordinate the multi-agency logistical assistance to the Fire and Rescue Department,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bernama reported that Seberang Jaya 2 in Perai, Penang, recorded unhealthy air pollutant index (API) reading of 101 as at noon yesterday.
An API reading of zero to 50 indicates good air quality; 51-100, moderate; 101-200, unhealthy; 201-300, very unhealthy; and over 300, hazardous.
The public can call the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or the DOE at its toll-free line, 1-800-88-2727, to report fire in large areas. For further updates, go to www.doe.gov.my.