Increase in Sumatra hotspots

  • Nation
  • Friday, 25 Jun 2004

PETALING JAYA: Hotspots in Sumatra have increased, indicating more hazy days for Malaysians, with those in Muar and Malacca getting the worst of it. 

The number of fires spotted on the Indonesian island rose to 293 on Wednesday from Monday's 261 and winds were expected to carry the smoke to the peninsula. 

Department of Environment (DOE) air division director Che Asmah Ibrahim said despite the increase in the hotspots, air quality in the Klang Valley has improved slightly due to the winds. 

The air quality in Muar and Malacca remained at unhealthy levels but there were signs of improvement, she added. 

Che Asmah said the department had not carried out any cloud seeding to induce rain in the affected areas due to unsuitable cloud formations. 

She said the department was still waiting for a reply from Indonesia to discuss ways to control the fires in Sumatra. 

“We will contact them again to seek their co-operation in tackling this problem,” she said. 

Besides the hotspots in Sumatra, 26 others were recorded in Kalimantan and two in Kuching. 

On Wednesday, the DOE air surveillance unit spotted open burning in two areas at Batang Berjuntai.  

One was spotted at the Raja Muda Musa Forest Reserve while the other was in an oil palm plantation. 

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, when asked if the Government would release the quantitative Air Pollutant Index (API) reading, said it would have an adverse effect on the economy. 

“It would get distorted by the international media to give a grim picture of Malaysia.  

“That is the concern,” he said after launching the Public Civil Service Conference yesterday. 

During the haze in 1999 and 2000, the Cabinet decided that only qualitative API readings, classified under good, moderate, unhealthy and dangerous, should be presented to the public. 

Then Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding said certain quarters had used the API readings during the 1997 haze to show that Malaysia was perpetually shrouded in haze. 

In Shah Alam, DOE director-general Rosnani Ibrahim said apart from Port Klang, the air quality in other parts of the Klang Valley and north of the peninsula showed improvement. 

She said DOE and the Police Air Wing inspected open-burning activities in Kampung Johan Setia and Kampung Jalan Kebun in Klang as well as at a forest reserve and an oil palm plantation at Batang Berjuntai.  

The two villages in Klang were still hazy due to the open-burning activities, Rosnani added. 

Those who have information on open-burning activities can contact DOE at 03-8889 1972 or the Fire and Rescue Services Department at 03-8888 0336.  

Related Stories:Schools can suspend activities, classes if haze gets worse 

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