MIRI: The state government, through Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), is looking at all means to speed up the implementation of zero-burning policy in the state.
Without giving the timeframe, its controller Peter Sawal said the implementation of the policy was a must-do for Sarawak.
“Like other states in the country, we are pursuing the fully developed state status by 2020, which is only eight years away.
“And as a developed state (later) there is no excuses for us not able to implement the zero-burning policy like what has been implemented in Peninsular Malaysia,” he told a press conference following a briefing on the Chief Minister’s Environmental Award (2011/2012) at ParkCity Everly Hotel here yesterday.
Peter admitted that the increasing needs of a growing population had contributed to greater exploitation of natural resources which subsequently affected the environment.
Such development activities had indirectly and inadvertently generated certain kind of wastes, which if not properly treated and managed, would result in various environmental problems.
“Sarawak is yet to have a cost-effective biomass waste technology. Thus, NREB allows open burning by issuing permit to the operators as a way to get rid of agricultural and plantation wastes.
“NREB is watching closely to ensure that operators adhere to the regulation based on standard operating procedure (SOP) on open burning, especially if it involves peat soil.”
However, such practice was not successful in tackling the fire and haze here recently, a phenomenon which had caught the attention of the federal government.
Thus, he pointed out, the implementation of the zero burning policy was an effective solution to tackle the haze problem.
Peter added that it was unfair to blame Indonesia for the trans-boundary haze “as we are also subscribing to the open burning policy”.
Commenting on the recent haze here, he said it was due to open burning by plantation operators and the local community particular the small holders.
He said it was easy for the board to handle the operators by freezing the open burning permit, but not the small holders.