KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia has been urged to take immediate action to prevent and put out the forest fires in central Sumatra which have brought the haze back to Malaysia.
Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan sent a letter to her Indonesian counterpart on Monday to express Malaysia’s concern over the sudden spike in hot spots in central Sumatra.
“The marked increase in hot spots has occurred since Sunday.
“We are now experiencing the westerly monsoon season during which winds blowing from the hot spots in central Sumatra cause a haze in the central and southern parts of the west coast of the peninsula,” she said in a statement yesterday.
The westerly monsoon, which causes the hot and dry spell, is expected to end in early October.
The fresh bout of haze comes after Indonesia expressed its hope to ratify the 2002 Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution early next year. This came at the 15th meeting of the sub-regional ministerial steering committee on transboundary haze pollution here last Wednesday.
Nine Asean nations had signed the agreement in 2002 except Indonesia.
The agreement is the first regional one in the world that requires participating countries to tackle transboundary haze pollution resulting from land and forest fires.
A satellite image by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed 252 hot spots in Sumatra on Monday, compared with 261 hot spots on Sunday.
In Malaysia, 26 hot spots were identified on Monday, of which six were in Johor, five in Kelantan, seven in Pahang, four in Perak, two in Negri Sembilan and one each in Selangor and Sarawak.
Halimah said DoE would conduct continuous research and take enforcement measures at every hot spot detected.
“We will also watch the air quality index throughout the country closely as outlined by the National Haze Action Plan.”
She said DOE would keep tabs to ensure no open burning was done in all states, take steps to prevent peat fires and have a 24-hour operations room to receive complaints on open burning.
Meanwhile, the Air Pollutant Index (API) in several areas in the central and southern part of the peninsula went up as at 5pm yesterday.
Two areas were deemed to be unhealthy compared with Monday’s four.
The two were Bukit Rambai in Malacca and Tanjung Malim in Perak, which recorded readings of 103 and 106 respectively.
However, Bukit Rambai’s reading improved from that on Monday when it was 119. But in the case of Tanjung Malim, it went up significantly from the previous day’s healthy reading of 50.