Smoke smothers Klang villages

Smoke smothers Klang villages

20 February 2008

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Klang, Malaysia — Open burning in two areas near Kampung Johan Setia here has set off peat fires and caused several areas around Klang to be covered in a cloud of smoke. 

Kampung Johan Setia resident Mohamad Rahmat, 63, said the village had been engulfed in smoke since late Monday, leaving many villagers suffering from breathing problems. 

“My grandson and I both suffer from asthma and we have been having difficulty breathing since last night,” said the roadside corn seller. 

He said open fires causing the peat to smoulder was an annual occurrence as farmers cleared land to plant pineapples and vegetables in the area. 

Visibility affected: Motorists driving through smoke on the Kesas Highway yesterday morning. — Picture courtesy of JESSICA CHASelangor Department Of Environment director Che Asmah Ibrahim said the department had been working with the Fire and Rescue Department to bring the fires under control. 

She said the department could not trace the farmers who had started the fires in Kampung Johan Setia as many of them had cleared private property illegally.  

Illegal open burning also set off more fires at the 40ha Meraya Pine plantation near the village. 

“We have issued two fines of RM2,000 each to the plantation for open burning and also directed the owners to stop the spread of the fires,” Che Asmah said. 

Selangor Multimedia, Environment and New Villages Committee chairman Datuk Ch’ng Toh Eng said local farmers and Rela members have been roped in to contain the fires. 

A spokesman for the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department in Shah Alam said firemen were working round the clock to put out the peat fires, spread across 161ha. 

“The actual affected area is less than 3.2ha in Ladang IOI, a palm oil plantation in Kampung Johan Setia, Seri Andalas,” he said.

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