Saturday, February 29

Nine individuals, developers under NREB probe for open burning in Sarawak this year


The fires — usually started by illegal burning to clear land for farming — were responsible for choking haze across Southeast Asia. AFP Photo

KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) has opened nine investigation papers against individuals and developers for breaching regulations prohibiting open burning in Sarawak this year.

Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh said the agency had also issued seven compounds with a value of RM7,200 have been issued.

In addition, he told the State Legislative Assembly this morning that his ministry had also opened investigation papers, while a total of 10 compounds for RM20,000 had been issued.

However, he did not specify how many investigation papers were under the ministry in his reply to a question from Datuk Tiong Thai King (PSB-Dudong).

On the recent haze episode in Sarawak, Len Talif it was the result of transboundary haze from Kalimantan, Indonesia and the domestic haze that took place in Miri from August to September.

“The federal government, through Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change had submitted a diplomatic note to Indonesia in its efforts to tackle the haze issue,” he said.

At the Sosek Malindo annual meeting, Len Talif said the state government had shared their experience in preventing and containing haze with their counterparts from West Kalimantan provincial government.

Sosek Malinddo is a bilateral socio economic organisation involving Malaysia and Indonesia.

At the state level, Len Talif said action taken to control domestic haze included aerial and land supervision with proactive enforcement to ensure open burning was not carried out without permit, freeze on issuance of open burning permit when the air pollutants index breaches 100 and fire weather index reached a scale of seven.

“The standard operating procedure on peat fire prevention and suppression for private landowners in Sarawak will be broaden and enhance for entities with huge land bank and landowners in Kuala Baram,” Len Talif said.

He said the Natural Resources and Environment (Amendment) Bill 2019, which had recently been passed at the assembly sitting, sought to curb haze pollution due to domestic open burning as a long-term measure.

Len Talif further added the state government had set up four air quality monitoring stations in Lawas, Lubuk Antu, Tebedu and Lundu, with the last one already operational.