Coming down hard on offenders

Blurred lines: The Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge in George Town is covered by haze. — Bernama

GEORGE TOWN: Due to the haze in Penang, the state government has warned that stern action will be taken against those found to be involved in open burning.

State environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the state Environment Department (DOE) was on the lookout for open burning.

“All commercial open burning will be investigated and submitted to the deputy public prosecutor for further action.

“This usually means a fine or even jail. We will no longer compromise on such cases as this could result in serious consequences,” he said.

Under the law, any person found guilty of open burning can be sentenced to a fine not exceeding RM500,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.

Visibility in the state yesterday morning was quite poor.

Phee said the sudden bout of haze here was caused by pollutants carried by the southwest monsoon and open burning in the past week.

“The worst is yet to come. The hot weather has also resulted in four residential fires that caused three deaths.

“There have been factory fires as well,” he said.

While most areas in Penang saw the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at a moderate level, Tanjung Bungah slipped into the unhealthy category of 125.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good, 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy, and above 301 is deemed hazardous.

Various neighbouring countries also reported escalating hotspots as the dry weather caused fires, which resulted in haze as well.

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