The Department of Environment (DoE) has activated the National Open Burning Action Plan and the National Haze Action Plan to coordinate measures by government agencies in addressing open burning and the haze in the country.
Its director-general, Norlin Jaafar, said this was done as the air quality reached a hazardous level in Miri and a very unhealthy level in Kuala Baram, both places in Sarawak, over the past two days.
“We have also issued directives under Section 31 and Section 37 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 to all landowners in the peat soil areas of Kuala Baram to prevent and control fires there.
“Also, we have been conducting daily patrols in areas at risk of open burning as well as providing the Air Pollution Index (API) readings to the Sarawak state disaster management committee for further action,” she said when contacted by Bernama News Channel (BNC) here today.
Norlin explained that several measures have been taken to address the haze in Sarawak, including stepping up enforcement against open burning and other activities that can aggravate the situation.
In addition, the department is working with other agencies to implement the standard operating procedure (SOP) on preventing and controlling fires on peat soil and disseminating information, she said.
Norlin said she hoped that all stakeholders and landowners can closely monitor fire-prone areas such as landfills, forests, peat soil areas as well as agricultural and industrial land.
“The people are reminded to not carry out open burning which will affect the air quality. DoE will take stern action against those caught for open burning under Section 29 (A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” she said.
As at noon today, the air quality in Miri was at a hazardous level of 344 at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) Air Pollutants Index (API) station while the reading at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Baram 2 API station was at a very unhealthy 297.
An API level of between 51 and 100 indicates air quality that is moderate; between 101 and 200, unhealthy; between 201 and 300, very unhealthy; and above 300, hazardous.
The air quality in Sri Aman, Sarawak, was at the unhealthy level and that in Sibu at the moderate level between 4 am and noon.
In Sabah, the air quality was at the moderate level in Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu, Kimanis and Keningau and in the Federal Territory of Labuan this afternoon.
The DoE website showed the API for Sandakan as 55; Kimanis, 56; Keningau, 58; Kota Kinabalu, 60; and Labuan, 69.
The people can surf the DoE website at http://apims.doe.gov.my/v2/ for the API readings. They can also download the smartphone application, MyIPU, on Google Play for the readings.