Battle on haze takes to the skies

Battle on haze takes to the skies

11 June 2009

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Malaysia — Daily aerial surveillance has begun with the help of the Police Air Unit and private flying companies to detect open-burning activities.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said the focus would be on landfills and other hotspots in Selangor, Pahang and Johor.

“The ministry is working with agencies such as the Environment and Forestry Departments to intensify enforcement to minimise activities that can contribute to the hazy situation and the deteriorating air quality in the country,” it said in a statement.

The public should call the Fire and Rescue Department at +603-88880036 or the Environment Department at toll-free 1-800-88-2727 to report open-burning.

A two-kilometre stretch of smoke is seen enveloping Jalan Pesisir Pantai Miri-Bintulu in Sarawak yesterday as a result of open-burning in the area. (Inset) Putrajaya yesterday at 2.10pm from PICC overlooking Seri Saujana Bridge. — Picture by David Khoo

The ministry also said assistance had been sought from Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia to report such activities overseas.

In June last year, Malaysia and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding on transborder haze pollution to lessen burning activities in Riau and Sumatra.

Three joint programmes — zero burning, fire-fighting training for volunteers in Rokan Hilir, Riau, and installation of air quality monitoring devices — were carried out in Riau.

The haze situation has slightly improved even though more areas have been registered under the moderate band in the Air Pollutant Index (API).

On Tuesday, 27 areas were registered as having moderate API readings.

As of 5pm yesterday, there had been an increase in the areas that were registered under the “moderate band”, with the number increasing to 32 areas.

Among areas with clearer skies were Shah Alam (66), Pasir Gudang (66), Cheras (65), Petaling Jaya (64), Miri (53) and Putrajaya (57).

On Tuesday, Cheras had the highest API reading of 96.

However, air quality and visibility in Tanjung Malim worsened with the API reading increasing to 94 yesterday.

Kota Baru (48) and Prai (58) were also added to the list of areas being monitored for air quality.

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