KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) has warned locals and all industries operating in Sarawak not to practise open burning.
It said that open burning was a major contributor to the deterioration of Sarawak’s air quality, causing harm to public health as well as the economy of the country.
It warned that the hot and dry weather during this time increases the potential for fires in flammable areas such as peatlands and landfills.
Based on NREB’s monitoring records, a total of 252 hotspots were detected from January to July 2021, compared to 201 hotspots in 2020 and 280 in 2019 over the same period.
“This number will continue to grow if the warm and dry weather continues until mid-September.
“So far we have not recorded API readings in the unhealthy category from January to July 2021. The air quality was at a level between the good category and the moderate category,” it said in a statement today.
NREB pointed out that the increase in open burning occurrences was mostly attributed to local subsistence farming, land clearing for commercial agriculture, as well as forest and bush fires.
Therefore, it advised that all industries, especially the agricultural sector, adopt ‘zero open burning’ and use more environmentally friendly methods such as ‘composting’, ‘mulching’, and others for the purpose of plant biomass disposal and land clearing.
Those found committing open burning can be punished under Section 30 (1) (a) and 30 (2) of the Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance 2019 which provides for a maximum fine of RM100,000 and imprisonment up to five years or both, as well as the compound of RM1,000 for each day of the open burning, if convicted.
NREB emphasised that efforts to combat and stop open burning were the shared responsibility of all parties. Accordingly, NREB appeals for open burning activities or incidents to be reported immediately to the nearest NREB offices or the NREB Whatsapp Hotline at 013-7595866.