Thursday, June 20, 2013

3 states ban open burning

SRJK (C) New Kota senior assistant (student affairs) Goh Chew Hon helping a pupil put on a face mask in Kota Kecil, Kota Tinggi, yesterday.

Selangor, Malacca and Johor hit by haze and dry weather

KUALA LUMPUR: OPEN burning in Selangor, Malacca and Johor has been banned starting yesterday because of the worsening haze and dry weather.

Department of Environment (DoE) director-general Halimah Hassan said all forms of open burning, except for cremation, ritual burning, charcoal barbeque grills and the flaring of gas, were prohibited.

Those who broke the ban face a maximum RM500,000 fine or five years' jail or both.

Halimah urged the Indonesian Environment Ministry to act quickly to contain the haze.

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As at 5pm yesterday, the DoE's website listed seven areas -- Kota Tinggi, Larkin Lama, Muar and Pasir Gudang in Johor; Malacca city and Bukit Rambai in Malacca; and Banting in Selangor -- as recording a high density of pollutant.

In Johor, conditions worsened at 5pm when the Air Pollutant Index (API) increased drastically, especially in Pasir Gudang, with a reading of 168 (an increase from 149 at 11am).

Kota Tinggi, Larkin Lama and Muar recorded "unhealthy" API readings of 138, 124 and 157 at 11am, which then increased to 166, 152 and 172.

In Malacca, Malacca city recorded a reading of 161, while Bukit Rambai had a reading of 118 as at 5pm.

Conditions improved in Bukit Rambai, which had recorded a reading of 119 at 11am.

In Selangor, Banting had an improved API reading of 114 from 121 at 11am.

The API reading is "good" when it is in between 0 and 50, "moderate" (51 to 100), "unhealthy" (101 to 200), "very unhealthy" (201 to 300) and "hazardous" (more than 300).

In the Klang Valley, several areas, including Putrajaya, Port Klang, Petaling Jaya and Kuala Selangor, recorded "moderate" readings in the morning and showed an improvement in the evening.

Malacca DoE director Abd Hafiz Abd Samad said based on the readings at 11am, Malacca city registered at 160, the worst of the seven "unhealthy" areas in the state, Johor and Selangor.

"The past couple of days have not been as bad because the wind had blown the haze towards Singapore, but the haze returned in the early hours of yesterday.

"The worst-hit areas in the country are those nearest to central Sumatra, where hot spots are still being detected as a result of open-air fires."

Johor and Kedah have recorded the highest number of forest fires and open burning from January to June.

The Fire and Rescue Department said Selangor recorded 751 cases in the first half of this year, followed by Kedah (637) and Johor (604).

The department's operations division deputy director-general, Datuk Soiman Jahid, said it was monitoring states that were prone to forest, bush and peat fires during the drought season, adding that it had engaged new standard operating procedures for such situations.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre recorded 187 hot spots in Sumatra on Tuesday, compared with 113 on Monday.

In Malaysia, it recorded 26 hot spots on Tuesday: Johor (1), Kelantan (2), Pahang (5) and Sarawak (18). Additional reporting by Hanis Maketab and Aisyah Sulaiman

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