News: Open burning in Sarawak, West Kalimantan caused the haze

Borneo Post, 7 Aug 2014

KUCHING: The haze that hit Sarawak since mid-July was caused by open burning activities in the state and in West Kalimantan, said Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) Controller Peter Sawal.

The haze that enveloped Sibu, Miri and Bintulu was due to open burning activities by individuals and local farm-related firms, he said.

In the case of haze around the southern part of the state, namely Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman, it was due mainly to open burning by companies in West Kalimantan and the smoke was swept over the border by the wind blowing from the south to the north.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), we traced numerous hotspots or fires to Kalimantan. There were only three hotspots in Sarawak.

“So what can be said is that the haze that affected Sarawak is caused by these two main factors.” he said when contacted yesterday.

However, Peter said the haze situation across the state improved yesterday, based on the API readings at 3pm. ILP Miri, Miri and Sri Aman recorded ‘medium’ readings and seven other areas recorded ‘good’ readings.

“But we are still monitoring the situation because there are still ongoing open burning activities, but in very small scale.

“Anyway, we have postponed the approval of new applications for open burning licences and have ordered companies that were given these licences to postponed burning-related activities until the situation improves.”

He reviewed that NREB was currently investigating several cases of open burning, and the results of the probe would determine the kind of the action to be taken against the culprits.

“We can only issue compounds, fines or warnings to individuals or companies based on concrete evidence. Thus far, no companies or individuals have been compounded, fined or warned.”


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