PUTRAJAYA: Heavier penalties for open burning are being considered by the Government, says Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
He said the current compound of RM2,000 was “too small” a deterrent for offenders.
“Anyone who gets caught for committing open burning is fined RM2,000. For companies whose income is millions of ringgit, that RM2,000 is merely ‘pocket money’.
“Someone who is caught for domestic burning in the villages or behind their house probably will get a small compound, but those who commit large-scale open burning at plantations should be penalised a lot more,” said Dr Wan Junaidi at a press conference here yesterday.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting with the national committee on haze at his ministry here, he said while the haze situation in the country was caused by fires in Indonesia, open burning in Malaysia made the situation worse.
Dr Wan Junaidi said a committee had been set up to determine the losses caused by the haze last year.
“This committee will translate the losses into ‘dollars and cents’ and will help ascertain how much we lost during the haze season,” he said.
The ministry in a statement said some four million students were affected when 7,646 schools were shut down during the haze.
Tourist arrivals to Malaysia also dropped by 4.4% in August last year, and 7.7% in September.
“The fishing industry also suffered losses as fishermen were unable to go out to sea due to the poor visibility.
“This is the kind of damage caused by the haze and we want to find out how much it cost,” said Dr Wan Junaidi, adding that the study would be completed in about three months.
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