‘Slash and burn’ farmers get stern warning

PUTRAJAYA: The Environment Department will take stern action against those in Johan Setia, Klang, who conduct slash and burn activities for farming purposes, which it said was contributing to the already bad haze situation in the area.

The department said open burning activities in the area had caused air pollution levels to breach the very unhealthy mark between 2pm yesterday and 3pm today.

Stern action would be taken against intentional slash and burn activities through investigations of these sites and also by seeking the assistance of the police.

Indonesian authorities were also reported to be considering harsher penalties on companies found burning forest and peat land, according to an Indonesian environment ministry official in Jakarta.

An increase in rain showers in Malaysia and Indonesia caused air pollution levels to drop, according to the Asean specialised meterological centre. “For the next few days, some showers can be expected over the equatorial region and may help to improve the haze situation.”

However, hazy conditions continued to be observed in central and southern parts of Sumatra and the smoke haze continued to be blown toward the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

Air quality improved in most parts of Malaysia through the day, with unhealthy pollution levels reported only in the central Peninsula, while the rest of the country recorded moderate air quality..

Johan Setia showed a reading of 183 (unhealthy) compared with 213 (very unhealthy) at 7pm yesterday.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre said yesterday that satellite data showed a decline in the number of hotspots in Sumatra, Indonesia, from 777 to 262. In Kalimantan the number increased from 363 to 487.

In Malaysia, nine hotspots were detected: four in Pahang, two each in Johor and Terengganu and one in Sabah.

Air quality also improved in Kluang, Larkin and Pasir Gudang, Johor, and in Taiping, Perak.

The number of areas recording unhealthy air quality also declined to 33 compared to 36 recorded this morning, while 34 other areas nationwide recorded a moderate air quality.

Hourly air pollution readings are available at http://apims.doe.gov.my/public_v2/api_table.html