Malaysia — KUCHING: Drought is expected to hit Sarawak from this month until September with an average of 20% to 40% rainfall expected.
Second Minister Resource Management and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the average monthly rainfall deemed normal for the state was between 200mm to 300mm.
For Bintulu and Mukah, the hot and dry weather is forecast to be even more severe with average rainfall expected to be 40% to 60% below the normal amount.
This kind of weather could cause more forest fires especially in peat areas, he told the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.
To control smoke haze, he said the Government through the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), the Department of Environment (DOE), and Meteorological Department would monitor the weather and the air quality.
Furthermore, he said, enforcement would be tightened to catch people who carried out open burning.
Tengah said NREB had taken the initiative to review its envi-ronmental regulations and had introduced the Natural Resources and Environment (Audit) Rules, 2008.
He said the audit was to check compliance with the rules and laws set by the board.
Soon, NREB would be enforcing the law given that it had already prepared the guidelines for the Environment Audit.
It would also carry out a roadshow to make stakeholders aware of the new rules.
Earlier, he said one of the main causes of haze was open burning which normally occurred during the dry season when paddy farms are being prepared.
Since last January till this month, there were 352 hotspots in the state compared to 2,504 in Sumatra and 934 in Kalimantan.