Environment minister expresses grave concern as more hotspots detected

Environment minister expresses grave concern as more hotspots detected
WAN JUNAIDI: I am monitoring the situation daily and it is very worrying. -Filepix
KUALA LUMPUR: Environment and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has expressed his grave concern over the deteriorating air quality in the country, as more hotspots in Sumatra have been detected.

"I am monitoring the situation daily and it is very worrying.

"The report by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) that I received this morning showed that there were 308 hotspots detected in Sumatra," he told Bernama here today.

Wan Junaidi said he had also briefed the weekly Cabinet ministers' meeting today on the latest weather situation, and hoped to be able to meet his Indonesian counterpart to discuss on the matter.
The other issue to be highlighted during the proposed Sept 17 and 18 meeting in Jakarta, was on the Malaysia-Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding to address transboundary haze issues, which was agreed during the 17th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution, he said.

"In this regard, we hoped to be able to finalise on the MoU during this visit," he said.
However, to date, he had yet to receive a reply from Indonesia's Environment Minister regarding his request to hold a bilateral meeting, he said.

Besides Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei have also agreed to step up efforts in addressing the transboundary haze problem during the meeting which was held in Jakarta last July 28.

Meanwhile, Meteorological Department (MET) director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said there was no need as yet to carry out cloud seeding operation in the Klang Valley to clear the haze.

She said this was because the air quality was still within the healthy level while cloud seeding operation would only be conducted when the air pollutant index (API) readings recorded in the certain areas is above 101 for more than 72 hours or three consecutive days, and categorised as unhealthy level.

"At the moment, there is no need for cloud seeding. But once the the air quality reaches the unhealthy level, MET and the the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) will conduct the operation," she told Bernama today.

According to the Department of Environment, API reading between 101 to 200 is categorised as unhealthy, while that of 51 to 100 is considered as moderate. For cloud seeding operation to be carried out successfully, she
said it was also subjected to the availability of suitable cloud and weather condition.

Che Gayah added that Malaysia would have to endure the present hazy weather until end of this month if open burning activities in Sumatra, Indonesia, persisted.

She said this was because the country is currently experiencing the south westerly monsoon that brings wind from the south west direction to the Peninsula.

"So if there are open burning activities in Sumatra, the wind will bring the smoke here. This condition will prevail until end of September, by which time it will be the start of the inter monsoon season," she said.

Inter monsoon would bring more rainfalls in October onwards, and could cause flash floods in the west coast states, she added.