Ministry to act on two hotspots in Sarawak

KUCHING: The Ministry of Resources and Environment will investigate and act upon two hotspots detected in the state recently.

Its minister, Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said the Department of Environment (DOE) was closely monitoring the air quality trend across the country as several hotspots were spotted in Kalimantan these past couple of days. He raised concern that the situation might lead to the trans-boundary haze moving to Sarawak.

“All parties are reminded to refrain from conducting open burning or to leave their land occupied or encroached by irresponsible parties who could purposely cause open burning for specific purposes,” the Santubong MP said in a statement received here recently.

According to Section 29 (A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, open burning offenders are liable to a fine not exceeding RM500,000 or a jail term not more than five years or both.

Satellite images of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in the Malaysian Meteorological Department website yesterday revealed two hotspots in Sarawak and 32 in West Kalimantan.

Kuching recorded the highest Air Pollutant Index (API) in the state with a reading of 71 between noon and 3pm. Kota Samarahan, Sarikei, Sibu and Kapit recorded moderate air quality, while Sri Aman, Miri and Limbang recorded good air quality.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 and 300 very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous.

Wan Junaidi also called for public cooperation to report on open burning or fires to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 and DOE at its toll-free line 1-800-88-2727.