PETALING JAYA: All open burning activities in the Klang Valley have been ordered suspended effective today following a dip in air quality over the last few days.
The order, issued by Department of Environment director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim, forbids any form of open burning until further notice.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement that seven areas recorded unhealthy air quality readings.
They are Port Klang, Gombak, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor in Selangor; Tanjung Malim in Perak; and Putrajaya.
NOW AND THEN: The Prime Minister’s Department (left) and the Putra Mosque (right) used to dominate the Putrajaya skyline. But the two magnificent buildings can hardly be seen from afar these days with the thick haze. Pictures of the buildings were taken from the same place on June 27 before the haze (bottom picture) and at 12.46pm yesterday. — STARpix by RAJA FAISAL HISHAN
Thirty-two other areas recorded average air-quality readings while 11 more had good air quality.
On Sunday, 333 hotspots were recorded in Sumatra, based on satellite readings from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre.
Most of the hotspots were recorded in Riau district and north of Sumatra.
The same satellite also recorded three hotspots in Sabah, 20 in Sarawak and 15 in Kalimantan, the statement said.
In peninsular Malaysia, two hotspots were detected in Pahang and Johor.
The declining air quality in the Klang Valley was mostly due to the fires in Sumatra, which was brought to the peninsula by south-westerly winds.
“This has caused the dust particles from the fires to suspend in the air, causing the haze and drop in visibility,” it said.
The ministry said the dry spell had also aggravated the situation, which was expected to carry on for the next two to three days.
Those caught conducting open burning face a charge under the Environmental Quality Act, which carries up to a RM500,000 fine, a maximum of five years' jail or both.
In Sarawak, open burning between now and November will be strictly controlled by Sarawak’s Environment and Public Health Ministry.
Its minister Datuk Michael Manyin said the public must refrain from all open-burning activities regardless of the scale of burning while plantations and housing developers had been told to not conduct burning unless a permit had been granted by the Natural Resources and Environment Board.
“The various enforcement agencies have been directed to enforce the law to ensure that open burning is strictly regulated,” he said in a statement.
Perak Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng said the air quality in Tanjung Malim was unhealthy probably because of its location, which was nearer to Selangor, where the haze condition was quite bad.
The marine police have also warned fishing vessels plying the Straits of Malacca to take extra precautionary measures due to the low visibility level.
Southern region Commandant Asst Supt Ghazali Haron advised small vessels to use fog lights to help them navigate.
Meanwhile, MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud said employers should ensure that their workers assigned to do field work were given the necessary gear to protect themselves from the haze.
He added that it was only fair that employers made sure that their workers were not adversely affected while carrying out company duties.
Those who want to report about cases of open burning can call the Fire and Rescue Department at 03-8888 0336 or the Department of Environment at 03-5519 7233 or 012-224 1640.