Sarawak NREB issues open burning warning

Sarawak NREB issues open burning warning

KUCHING: The Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) has reminded the people and all industries operating in Sarawak not to conduct any open burning following the current spell of hot weather in the state.

In a statement yesterday, NREB said open burning is the main contributor to the degradation of air quality that could pose a threat to public health and affect the economy.

“The current hot and dry weather spell increases the risk of fires occurring in hotspots including peatland areas and landfills,” it said.

Based on the board’s monitoring records, 252 hotspots were detected from January till July this year compared to 201 hotspots in 2020 and 280 hotspots in 2019 for the same period.

“The number is expected to rise if the hot and dry spell continues till mid-September,” the statement read.

NREB said between January and July this year, there was not a day that recorded an air pollution index (API) reading of unhealthy levels in Sarawak, and the air quality was in the healthy and moderate categories.

According to the board, the increase in open burning cases was caused by agricultural activities, land clearing for commercial agriculture as well as forest and bush fires.

“Locals and industry players, especially in the agriculture sector, are advised to conduct zero-open-burning operations and use environmentally friendly methods, including composting and mulching for plant bio-mass disposal and land clearing,” it added.

It said anyone who causes or conducts open burning can be charged under Sections 30(1)(a) and 30(2)of the Natural Resources and Environmental Ordinance 2019, which provides for a fine of up to RM100,000 or five years’ jail, or both. –Bernama