PETALING JAYA: A state of haze emergency (darurat jerebu) will be declared when the air pollutant index (API) exceeds 500, said the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
Such a situation happened before on June 3,2013, in Muar and Ledang in Johor, when the API surged over 700.
A similar situation also happened on Sept 19,1997, in Kuching, Sarawak, when the API hit 650 and in Kuala Selangor and Port Klang in Selangor on Aug 1,2005, when the API was 531.
In a statement, Nadma said when a haze emergency is declared, the disaster management committees at the central, state and district levels will implement several actions, including advising the closure of government and private offices.
“This includes other workplaces such as factories, plantations, construction sites, quarries as well as earthworks and transportation of soil.
“Occupational safety and health measures should be taken at all times, ” it said.
However, Nadma noted that government agencies in several service sectors will be excluded from closure during a haze emergency.
The service sectors included water supply, electricity, public health, fire and rescue, prison, postal, telephone and communications, telegraphy, radio communication, broadcasting and television, ports including docks, jetties and related services.
Others included land, sea and air transport services, the supply of fuel and lubricants, banking and finance, and all other services related directly to the haze disaster management under the National Security Council (NSC) Order No. 20, and also the National Haze Action Plan.
“The closure of all schools, education and childcare centres within the emergency zone will be under the advice of the Education Ministry, Women, Family and Community Development Ministry as well as the Welfare Department, ” it said.
According to the Education Ministry, all teachers and staff need not come to schools when API levels exceed 500.
Together with cooperation from the Health Ministry, Nadma said the Communications and Multimedia Ministry will continuously disseminate information and updates on haze to the public.
“All ministries, departments and agencies will also suspend all outdoor and recreational activities, ” it said.
According to information from the NSC, the haze emergency is different from the Emergency Declaration (darurat) under the Constitution.
Citing the haze emergency for the Muar and Ledang districts in 2013, it explained that an emergency is declared when it involves public security and there is a need for curfews.
“During the haze emergency, the public can still go about their daily activities, but must adhere to guidelines and advice issued by the government, ” it said.
The haze emergency takes into consideration the complexities and magnitude of the disaster, level of destruction, available resources including financial, human resources, equipment, expertise, aid and the time needed to manage the disaster.
It also added the declaration of the haze emergency is the exclusive decision of the Prime Minister as provided under the laws and regulations, and in the NSC Order No. 20.