DOE: Stop open burning

The Penang Environment Department has received nearly 400 complaints on open burning so far this year.

THE public is reminded not to conduct open burning, especially near rubbish dumps and bushes, during the hot and dry season in the country.

Penang Environment Department (DOE) director Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab said the department had received 374 complaints on open burning as of June 30 this year.

She said the number showed a slight increase compared with the 335 cases reported in the same corresponding period last year.

“Garbage burning accounted for 72% of the open burning cases while 13% was due to the burning of waste products in orchards.

“The rest of the cases were at construction and industry areas and among bushes.

“Statistics show that the open burning of garbage often occurs in residential areas including open areas or fields and illegal landfills,” she said in a statement.

On Penang island, the northeast district recorded the highest number of open burning cases at 36%, followed by the southwest district (24%).

On the mainland, central Seberang Prai recorded 21% of the cases followed by south Seberang Prai (10%) and north Seberang Prai (9%).

“Action will be taken against any party who does open burning, including landowners.

Open burning in Penang often happens in fields and illegal landfills.Open burning in Penang often happens in fields and illegal landfills.

“Under Section 29 (A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, those convicted of committing open burning can be fined not more than RM500,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding five years or both.

“A maximum fine of RM2,000 can be imposed each time they commit the offence,” said Sharifah Zakiah.

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the country is in the southwest monsoon season with rainfall distribution that will decrease until mid-September.

“The Butterworth Meteorological Station has recorded more than seven consecutive days without rain.

“The Air Pollution Index at four air monitoring stations in Penang shows a moderate index of between 73 to 85.

“A haze may occur if open burning is not controlled, especially from the end of July to September.

“Apart from that, overseas open burning hotspots might affect air quality,” she said.

The DOE conducts air quality monitoring through automated stations.

“In Penang, there are four automatic stations to monitor air quality. In addition, the DOE regularly holds patrols to prevent open burning.

“Monitoring will be done using drones to identify locations of fires, especially in areas that are difficult to enter.

“These patrols will be done even on weekends and public holidays,” she said.

Sharifah Zakiah explained that the Penang DOE had spent a lot of time in identifying the causes and locations of open burning.

The public can report pollution cases to DOE’s toll-free line at 1-800-88-2727 or via e-complaint at

Apart from the DOE, the public can channel complaints of open burning in neighbourhoods and construction sites to local authorities for action to be taken under the Local Government Act 1976.

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