Several areas in peninsular Malaysia currently experiencing poor air quality
PETALING JAYA: The nation should brace for more hazy days ahead as the weather will become hotter and drier in the coming months, says Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
“We expect to see more haze particularly during the current monsoon transition period that will last till August.
“The conditions during this transition period are usually hot and much drier, which could result in more hotspots,” he told The Star when contacted yesterday.
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He acknowledged that there were several areas in Peninsular Malaysia currently experiencing poor air quality.
“This does not include other areas where their air quality is gradually worsening,” he said.
Besides the hot and drier weather during the monsoon transition period, resumption of economic activities after the Covid-19 pandemic was also contributing to the haze, said Nik Nazmi.
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“We were spared the haze for the past two or three years as there was a slowdown in economic activities due to the pandemic.
“But the economy is now fully reopened and at full capacity again. As such, we expect the haze to return,” he said.
Nik Nazmi said the government had anticipated the possibility of the haze returning.
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“Malaysia is not the only country experiencing hot and dry weather. Several other countries in the region are also experiencing it.
“We have in fact already planned ahead and will hold a multi-agency meeting in the next few days to discuss the possibility of drier conditions and haze affecting the country.”
He said several ministries headed by a special task force would be roped in to tackle the issue.
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Among them are the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), Health Ministry, Environment Department (DOE), Fire and Rescue Services Department, and the Irrigation and Drainage Department, he added.
Nik Nazmi said the emphasis would be on illegal opening burning carried out by the private sector.
This, he said, was needed especially to prevent peat soil fires.
Citing the fire in Kampung Beoh, Bachok, Kelantan as an example, he said drier conditions could ignite fires that would lead to haze.
Asked about the reasons behind the current hazy condition in the country, Nik Nazmi said the DOE was looking into the matter.
He said the possible effects of El Nino on the region would also be closely monitored to determine its impact on Malaysia in the coming months.