Rise in number of hotspots in Sarawak expected if dry weather persists in September

File photo for illustration purposes

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KUCHING, Aug 5: A total of 252 hotspots have been detected from January to July 2021, in comparison to 201 in 2020 and 280 in 2019.

According to a press release from the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), the number of hotspots is expected to continue to rise if the hot and dry weather conditions continue until mid-September.

As such, NREB cautioned industries and local residents in Sarawak not to carry out any open burning.

The department said open burning is a major contributor to air quality deterioration in Sarawak which can be detrimental to public health and may affect the State’s economy.

Open burning cases in Sarawak have been caused by subsistence farming activities of the locals, land clearing for commercial agriculture, as well as forest and bush fires, NREB noted.

“Therefore, locals and the industry players especially those from the agricultural sector, are advised to adopt the operation of ‘zero open burning’ policy and use more environmentally friendly methods such as ‘composting’, ‘mulching’ and others for the purpose of bio-mass waste disposal and land clearing,” said NREB in a press statement today.

Any individual or company carrying out open burning may 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 for a maximum of five years or both.

A compound of RM1,000 may also be imposed each day for any open burning, if convicted.

NREB would like to emphasize that efforts to combat and stop open burning are the shared responsibility of all parties.

Accordingly, NREB appealed to the public to report any open burning activities or incidents immediately to the nearest NREB Offices or the NREB Whatsapp Hotline at 013-7595866.

Confidentiality is guaranteed in accordance with the provisions of Section 38 of Protection of Whistleblower Confidentiality, Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance, 2019. — DayakDaily