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DOE closely monitoring air quality, haze situation

KUCHING, Aug 24 (Bernama) -- The Department of Environment (DOE) is closely monitoring the status and trends of air quality every hour due to the uncertain haze situation with hot spots detected in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Natural Resource and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the situation could lead to transboundary haze pollution to continue into the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

He said the deterioration of air quality with little hazy conditions was experienced in several areas in Sarawak at the moment due to the transboundary haze from West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

He said a regional haze map issued by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) two days ago (Aug 22) showed simple circle of haze originated from the land and forest fires in Central and South Sumatra and West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

"Meanwhile, three hot spots have been detected in the country, namely one in Pahang and two in Sabah. All hot spots in the country will be investigated and action taken accordingly," he said in a media statement featured in DOE's official portal yesterday.

Wan Junaidi said the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan had been activated nationwide since February this year.

He said 2,835 cases of open burning were detected in the country between January and July 12, with 507 cases involving forest areas, agricultural areas (1,048 cases), industrial areas (19 cases), construction areas (50 cases), landfills (75 cases), bushes (562 cases) and other small open burning (574).

"In terms of enforcement taken for the same period, 172 open burning cases were issued compounds and 46 were given warning notices. In addition, investigation papers for 16 cases of open burning were prepared for legal action to be taken," he said.

He said tougher enforcement measures would continue to be taken leading to the arrest of any individual suspected of committing an offence under the provisions of the Environment Quality Act (EQA) 1974.

He said under Section 29 (A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, those convicted of carrying out open burning would be fined not exceeding RM500,000 or imprisonment of up to five years or both, in addition to the maximum fine of RM2,000 which can be imposed for each offence.


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