PETALING JAYA: Preparations are being made for the country to face the dry season which is expected to worsen due to the El Nino phenomenon, says Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
This comes as the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) issued an alert on Monday (May 29) that the southern Asean region, including Malaysia, has entered into the dry season linked to the South-West Monsoon.
"We are on alert as we know that the hot season is here. We are monitoring the developments including incidences of open burning," he told reporters after visiting a river rehabilitation project involving Sungai Penchala on Tuesday (May 30).
The alert posted by ASMC on its website states that the dry spell is expected to last till October with the risk of haze developing beginning in June.
Nik Nazmi, who chaired the National Haze and Dry Weather Main Committee meeting in Putrajaya last Friday (May 26), said the preparations also involved several other ministries in light of the health risks if a heatwave occurs.
"Relevant ministries such as the Health Ministry and Youth and Sports Ministry were also involved in our meeting.
"This is because restrictions on outdoor sporting activities may be imposed during a heatwave.
"We are also looking into matters such as food security," he added.
On Monday, Farmers' Organisation Authority Kedah chairman Datuk Mahfuz Omar expressed concern that the prolonged dry spell would affect the padi planting season in northern states.
This came in the wake of the Penang government considering a second wave of cloud seeding to ensure adequate water levels at the Ayer Itam and Teluk Bahang dams.
On Monday, water level at Ayer Itam was at 46.1% and 46.6% in Teluk Bahang.
Meanwhile, Nik Nazmi said he would be leading the Malaysian delegation to the Asean Environment Ministers' Meeting, the 24th Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) meeting and the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting on cross-border haze on June 7 and 9 in Singapore.
Last week, Nik Nazmi told Parliament that there is an 82% chance of El Nino occurring in the second half of the year.