Ban open burning for good

MIRI: A total ban on the burning of agriculture waste should be imposed to address wildfires and haze in northern Sarawak.

Natives in Baram district confirmed that plantation companies there are abiding with the temporary ban and said it should be made permanent.

The state had imposed a ban on open burning in all plantations last month.

Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) chairman Peter Sawal had issued a written directive on the matter.

He said no permits would be given until further notice to burn agriculture waste or old trees.

The Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department is among the agencies tasked with monitoring the ban.

Sawal said the ban was necessary in view of the hot and dry weather and to prevent haze.

Michael Ding, a Lakiput community elder at Kampung Kuala Tutoh in the Baram basin, said there is no haze.

“The sky is clear over my village settlement and surrounding areas.

“We have not seen any big fires in plantations operating around our settlement.

“It looks like the total ban imposed by the NREB is effective in stopping wildfires.

“The ban should be made permanent,” he said when interviewed.

Long Ikah community chief Jonathan Sunin also said that the haze had cleared in his area.

He said the NREB directive on open burning was good.

“In fact, the ban should be all-year round and not seasonal.

“Using fire to burn plantation waste should be permanently disallowed throughout Sarawak,” he added.

The NREB issues permits to plantations to burn their old trees and other waste during certain times of the year.

In July and August, parts of northern and central Sarawak saw forest fires that contributed to the haze.