KUCHING: Farmers carrying out open burning activities to clear land for new crops should ensure that the fire does not spread to nearby forests, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam.
Once a forest fire starts, it would be almost impossible to contain it. There is now some sporadic burning in the state but the fires are not big enough to be detected by satellite, he told reporters here yesterday.
Dr Chan, who is also the president of the Sarawak United Peoples Party, had earlier officiated a flag raising ceremony to mark the partys 44th anniversary celebrations.
He said as the current dry spell was expected to continue for several months, it was easy for fires to start.
Even a cigarette butt thrown on the roadside can start a fire, he added.
Dr Chan said he would call for a meeting next week to discuss additional preventive measures to be taken by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) on open burning activities. The board has already held discussions with plantation owners.
He added that the state had to do everything possible to prevent haze from local sources as it had no control over transboundary haze.
Last week, NREB controller Chong Ted Tsiung had said that farmers and shifting cultivators were expected to start open burning activities for the new farming season after the Gawai Dayak celebrations.
Most of the shifting cultivators are in Lubok Antu in Sri Aman division, Julau and Kapit in central Sarawak and Limbang in the northern region.