Authorities urged to be vigilant against open burning effects on air quality

PETALING JAYA: The government received 1,043 complaints on open burning in the first three weeks of the year, says Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

He said burning of garbage made up the majority of reports with 715 cases, and the Environment Department's action included issuing 79 field citations, five compound notices and 12 order notices as well as conducting 666 observations.

ALSO READ: Lack of awareness fanning the flames on open burning

Two cases were large-scale fires involving a forest reserve in Kuala Penyu district in Sabah and farmland in Chuping, Perlis.

In view of these figures, Nik Nazmi urged the relevant ministries, departments, agencies and state governments to always be sensitive and responsive to changes in the country's weather and air quality.

"They (are urged to) take action as outlined in the National Haze Action Plan based on warning levels and air pollutant index (API) readings," he said after chairing the National Haze and Dry Weather committee meeting in Putrajaya on Thursday (Feb 22).

ALSO READ: Hot weather: Melaka Fire Dept identifies 30 open burning hotspots

"Departments and agencies involved must always be ready to implement immediate and operational large-scale fire suppression or cloud seeding where needed, subject to suitable atmospheric conditions.

"My ministry, in collaboration with other ministries, departments, agencies and the state governments will take a whole-of-government approach to fighting illegal landfill fires as well as improving forest and brush fire prevention measures that may cause local haze and affect the air quality," he said.

ALSO READ: Sick of open burning near homes in Taman Klang Jaya

He added that as the country is currently in the final phase of the north-east monsoon which will last until the end of March, reduced distribution of rain will lead to hot and dry conditions.

At the same time, the El Nino phenomenon that is expected to last until the second quarter would cause the country's daily maximum temperature to record higher than usual readings, he said.

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