Haze: DOE declares three states as ‘no open burning’ zones

The Star, 20 June 2013

PETALING JAYA: The Department of Environment (DOE) has declared the whole of Selangor, Malacca and Johor as strictly “no open burning” zones with immediate effect.

DOE director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said the exceptions were for cremation, grill/barbeque, flaring and religious purposes.

She said the ban was issued under Section 29(A) of the Environmental Quality Act and would be lifted when the deteriorating air quality in the regions had returned to normal.

“Those found guilty can be fined up to RM500,000, jailed for up to five years or both,” she said in a statement.

“They can also incur a maximum compound of RM2,000 for each violation.”

Halimah urged owners of open land to stop “irresponsible parties” from encroaching into their premises to conduct open burning.

Seven towns in Peninsular Malaysia recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index readings as at 5pm yesterday.

They are Banting, Selangor (114), Bukit Rambai, Negri Sembilan (118), Malacca City, Malacca (161), Muar, Johor (172), Larkin Lama, Johor (152), Pasir Gudang, Johor (168) and Kota Tinggi, Johor (166).

Under the API, readings of bet­ween 0 and 50 are classified as Good, 51 to 100 as Moderate, 101 to 200 as Unhealthy, 201 to 300 as Very Unhealthy and 300 and above as Hazardous.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that the haze here was the worst since 2005 while neighbouring Singapore was experiencing its worst air pollution level in 16 years.

The paper wrote that the haze, blown in from fires in Sumatra, was prompting regional officials to press Indonesia for urgent action.

The DOE encouraged people to lodge reports on instances of open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department.

They can call 03-88880336 or the DOE at 03-88891972.