Sarawak gets ready for severe drought

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 12 Jun 2003

KUCHING: Sarawak has reactivated all its disaster and relief machinery at the divisional level to brace for any severe drought and haze problems. 

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said that although the current drought situation was not serious yet, the state has to prepare early for any eventuality. 

He said the government was supplying drinking water to affected villagers in Simunjan, Asajaya and Samarahan in southern Sarawak and 10 longhouses in Bakong, Sibuti and Marudi in the northern region. 

“Due to the dry spell, the water quality in some areas, particularly in rural villages, may deteriorate. 

“The people are advised to drink boiled water to prevent water-borne diseases like cholera,” he added. 

Dr Chan chaired the state disaster and relief management committee meeting here on Tuesday to discuss the various measures to tackle the drought and expected haze problems. 

He advised the people not to carry out tuba fishing as this would pollute the river water and make it unsafe for drinking. 

Due to reported tuba fishing along a tributary of the Sarawak River here last week, the Sinaiwan water treatment plant had to be shut down for five days from last Thursday as its source of raw water intake was contaminated. 

Dr Chan said all the water treatment plants in the state were operating normally and there should be no shortage of water supply in towns. 

He also said the government would find ways to ensure no seawater intrusion into the Sarawak River, which provided the city’s drinking water. 

On the haze, he said the Natural Resources and Environment Board and Department of Environment were closely monitoring local open burning and those in West Kalimantan. 

The board predicted that open burning by shifting cultivators and rural farmers would peak in the next two months as they prepared to cultivate their land. 

Some hot spots due to land-clearing by farmers have already been detected in the state. 

Dr Chan said special attention had been given to fire-prone areas like in Miri, where peat soil fire would be difficult to contain. 

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