KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Authorities have prohibited all forms of open burning except cremations and religious rituals with immediate effect in an attempt to reduce the harmful effects of the haze.
According to Department of Environment director-general Norlin Jaafar, she was enforcing the ban under the Environment Quality Act 1974 that punishes violators with fines of up to RM500,000 and prison terms of no more than five years per offence.
“All parties are requested not to conduct open burning, or allow entry or trespass into their property and premises by irresponsible quarters that lead to open burning, either intentional or otherwise,” she said in a statement today.
The prohibition will last until the end of the current monsoon season.
Earlier, Norlin’s department reported that 21 areas across Malaysia officially are “unhealthy”, according to the official Air Pollution Index that also kept Rompin, Pahang firmly in the “very unhealthy” range.
In the noon update of the department’s hourly API readings, Rompin stood at 228 or beyond the 200 threshold for “very unhealthy” air quality.
The Klang Valley and surrounding regions also remained firmly at “unhealthy” levels, with the administrative centre of Putrajaya enveloped in the thick haze and coming as the worst in the area with an API reading of 152, surpassed only by Nilai, Negri Sembilan with its reading of 155.
Across Selangor, Shah Alam was the most affected at 143, followed by Petaling Jaya (139), Klang (134), and Banting (130).
Other parts also suffering from the haze in Kuala Lumpur include Cheras (137) and Batu Muda (134).
To the south in Negri Sembilan and Melaka, readings ranged from 126 in Seremban to Bandaraya Melaka’s 103.
In East Malaysia, Sarawak continued to bear the brunt of the annual haze, with four districts suffering from unhealthy air, the worst being in Sri Aman with an API reading of 156.
Earlier today, the Sarawak Education Department announced that it has reopened schools closed due to the haze yesterday.
Energy, Science Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin had said the current dry spell and monsoonal winds have exacerbated the situation in Malaysia.
Yeo said the federal government will attempt cloud seeding to mitigate once this is possible and continue urging Jakarta to accept help in combating the raging fires within its borders.