Nik Nazmi: Govt gearing up for El Nino and dry weather, measures in place

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has taken measures to prepare for the hot and dry weather conditions and the El Nino phenomenon following the final phase of the Northeast Monsoon, which is expected to continue until the end of March.

Natural Resources and Environment (NRES) Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, in a statement, said among the actions are for authorities to remain aware of changes in weather and air quality in the country as well as to prepare for large-scale firefighting and cloud seeding operations.

“Relevant ministries, departments, agencies and state governments must remain vigilant about changes in weather and air quality in the country and take action as outlined in the

National Haze Action Plan based on the Alert Level and Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.”

“Departments and agencies involved must always be prepared to implement large-scale firefighting immediately and cloud seeding operations if necessary, subject to suitable atmospheric conditions.”

“NRES, in collaboration with ministries, departments, agencies, and state governments, will also adopt a whole-of-government approach to combat illegal waste dumping site fires and enhance forest fire prevention measures, which contribute to local haze, affecting the country’s air quality and public health,” he said.

Nik Nazmi who had earlier chaired the first National Haze and Drought Committee (JIJCKK) Meeting of the year at his ministry yesterday, said the government would strengthen its strategies and enhance cooperation across ASEAN through active participation in a series of meetings under the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in June and October this year.

“NRES will also explore opportunities to establish bilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries to address transboundary haze issues.”

“NRES is currently examining the best mechanisms, including short-term and long-term measures, and the need to enact legislation to effectively and comprehensively address transboundary haze issues.”

“This matter will be thoroughly reviewed, taking into account various factors including effectiveness and feasibility,” he said.

Nik Nazmi also said the strong El Nino phenomenon currently affecting the world is expected to cause higher daily maximum temperatures and hotter and drier weather than usual.

“This phenomenon is expected to persist until the second quarter of this year, and the transition of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to neutral is expected to occur around April to June 2024.”

“The Southwest Monsoon is expected to begin in May until September 2024, with the country expected to receive average rainfall in most places,” he said.

As such, Nik Nazmi added, due to the weather conditions, all quarters are reminded not to engage in open burning and to prevent land or premises from being encroached upon by irresponsible parties, which may lead to open burning, whether for specific purposes or accidentally.

“Based on records from Jan 1 to Feb 19, there were 1,043 complaints of open burning cases, with the highest involving 715 cases of improper waste burning.”

“Recently, there were two cases of large-scale fires involving forest reserve areas in the Kuala Penyu District, Sabah, and plantation areas in Chuping, Perlis.

These fires have been successfully extinguished, and all relevant departments, agencies, and state governments have been urged to enhance fire prevention measures to prevent similar incidents from recurring.”

“The Environment Department has also taken enforcement actions by issuing 79 field citations, 5 compounds, 12 directives, and 666 open burning-related monitoring activities.”

He added that strict action would be taken against those responsible for causing open burning, including landowners.

“If found guilty under Section 29(A) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, offenders may be fined up to RM500,000 or imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both.”

“A maximum compound of RM2,000 may also be imposed for each offence.”

Source: New Straits Times


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