Thanks to the wind, Sarawak to experience less haze this year

Peter Sawal

KUCHING, July 31: Sarawak is expected to experience less transboundary haze from Kalimantan this year due to the change in wind direction.

Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) controller Dr Peter Sawal said previously the wind blew directly from Kalimantan to the state.

“(This year) the wind is blowing from the Kalimantan side towards the sea,” said Peter in a briefing organised by NREB at Menara Pelita here today.

He said in previous years, there were many open burning incidents in the neighbouring country. It is comparatively less this year due to the favourable weather, which was “not so dry”.

“In terms of number of hotspots or burnings, it is also much less than the last few years,” he said.

Yesterday, there were three hotspots detected in the state: two in Miri and one in Bintulu.

Peter also attributed the lesser transboundary haze this year to the commitment of the Central Government of Indonesia, which imposes more stringent controls over open burning.

Local weather, according to Peter, was one of the factors that influence open burning. When the weather is dry, plantation companies in Indonesia and Sarawak would clear the land by disposing biomass through opening burning. Local farmers would also do likewise, thus worsening the situation.

To him, it is a logical and cost effective method to dispose of biomass. What NREB has been doing is to ensure that open burning is regulated.

When NREB grants open burning permits, it would space out the burning activities so that they are not concentrated in one area.

He said there were criteria to be fulfilled when applying for open burning permits. These criteria include stacked biomass, the availability of fire fighting team and equipment.

“The open burning permit only lasts for four days and do not cover weekends. If it rains during the four days, then the company has to re-apply again. And by 5pm, the fire has to be put out,” explained Peter.

As of June this year, 38 permits have been issued. — DayakDaily