NREB: Kalimantan, Sumatra account for majority of hotspots in region

Fire and heat. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, Sept 10: Kalimantan and Sumatra have been identified as the main source (97.15 per cent) of total hotspots in the region.

According to Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) Environmental Quality controller Justine Jok Jau Emang in a statement today, as of Sept 9, the number of forest fires detected in Kalimantan was 3,106 followed by Sumatra with 1,198 hotspots.

Justine assured that the government is doing its best to tackle the situation.

“NREB is intensifying its enforcement work. Monitoring and patrolling assisted by employing drones and satellite imaging has increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our enforcement team,” he said.

Those who are caught conducting open burning may be summoned and penalised up to a maximum of RM30,000 or be imprisoned up to 3 years, or both.

Meanwhile, the haze in Sarawak is reported to be at a moderate level in most divisions except for Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman where the levels are ‘unhealthy’ following occurrences of bush fires in the regions.

“The hazy situation is mainly caused by trans-boundary haze from Kalimantan and Sumatra. This transboundary haze is seasonal air pollution affecting Southeast Asian countries almost annually,” Justine said.

The first report of such phenomenon was in the 1980s, and the most serious episode took place in 1997.

Currently, Sarawak is experiencing the southwest monsoon season.

The south-western wind is causing the haze to drift from Kalimantan to Sarawak.

The weather is predicted to be hot and dry until the inter-monsoon season by October 2019.

The haze can have various effects on the population, Justine said, explaining that the fine particles in the haze permeates deep into the lungs, which can cause serious respiratory problems, especially among young children and the elderly, and sometimes resulting serious respiratory problems.

“Other than the direct health impact, schools are forced to close when the air quality has breached the very unhealthy level at 200. Outdoor activities are affected thus it also impedes socio-economic activities and the tourism industry may suffer as well as visitors are not attracted by a hazy environment,” he said.

Agricultural productivity and the general state of the environment may also decline as the haze directly affects flowering plants.

NREB is appealing to the general public to report any incident of open burning to its office.

The NREB public complaint hotline can be reached via sending a WhatsApp message or calling +6013-759 5866. — DayakDaily