Take immediate steps to stop open burning, says Lee Lam Thye

PETALING JAYA: The relevant enforcement agencies must take immediate steps against open burning to prevent the worsening of the haze, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

"Enforcement cannot be the sole responsibility of the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry. It must be a concerted effort by several agencies," said the Alliance for Safe Community founder and chairman.

Lee said these agencies include local councils like Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) which has its own health and environment officers.

He said that there must be an immediate response from enforcement agencies if open burning activities were detected and cited an example in the Ampang Jaya district where illegal backyard workshops located on land belonging to a statutory body were regularly carrying out open burning activities.

"The opening burning happens twice to three times a week. Residents living nearby have voiced their discomfort as there is a children's playground in their housing area," he said.

On Saturday (April 15), Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said that the nation was bracing for the return of the haze due to the recent hot and dry conditions.

This comes after two areas recorded unhealthy air quality readings on Saturday (April 16) – Segamat in Johor and Tanah Merah in Kelantan, according to the Environment Department.

Environment Department director-general Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar said the Air Pollutant Index (API) recorded in Segamat was 139 while Tanah Merah was at 109 as of 2pm on Saturday (April 15).

Meanwhile, Lee also urged the Plantation and Commodities Ministry to assist the agricultural sector to move away from open burning activities as a means to clear land.

He said that the agricultural sector should not be stingy and invest in technology which doesn't require open burning to clear land.

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