MIRI: The Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) has issued a total ban on all forms of open burning and backyard burning in the Miri division in northern Sarawak.
The board is also preparing to start aerial surveillance to spot open burning, especially in the interior jungles.
The ban was imposed due to the persistent dry weather condition here, which had contributed to a spate of bushfires in the outskirts and along the the border with Brunei at the Sungai Tujuh checkpoint.
NREB assistant controller Dania Goyog confirmed yesterday that the board had banned all forms of open burning in Miri but not in other parts of the state.
“For the rest of Sarawak, there is no total ban on burning activities but a permit is required from the board for those who want to conduct burning in open spaces.
“However, for Miri division, a total ban has been imposed which means that no permit will be issued whatsoever for any burning.
“Even burning of domestic wastes in the garden is not allowed in Miri.
“The northern half of Sarawak is facing a dry spell and we are worried bushfires may become more regular there,” he said in a telephone interview from Mukah.
Yesterday, Miri was affected by a thin veil of smoke caused by isolated burning activities outside the town centre. Residents in the town woke up to find traces of ashes in the atmosphere.
Dania said aerial surveillance over Miri and nearby districts would be launched within the next few days if the dry spell persisted.
“In view of the dry condition, we want to warn the public that no burning will be tolerated, not even at this time of the year (when it was supposed to be safe for burning).
“Those carrying out burning now must stop before they get into trouble. The penalties nowadays against offenders are very heavy and severe,” he said.
Meanwhile, across the Brunei border, The Borneo Bulletin reported that bushfires in several areas had contributed to poor visibility in some parts of the country.
The report said the current dry spell there made vegetation and peat swamps vulnerable to fire hazards.
It added that such conditions were expected to continue for the rest of the month.