Malaysia is preparing to close schools because the haze is starting to get worse. Malaysia blamed the smoke haze on fires in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo/REUTERS
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia will try to bring down artificial rain and prepare to close schools because smog in various places it is starting to get worse.
The Malaysian Department of Environment, as quoted by Reuters on Tuesday (3/10/2023), said on Monday that the regional meteorological agency had detected nearly 250 “hotspots” – indicating fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and on parts of the island of Kalimantan, and none even one in Malaysia.
Almost every dry season, smoke from fires to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations in Indonesia covers the skies over much of the region, posing a risk to public health and worrying tourism operators and airlines.
Malaysia’s air quality is deteriorating, especially in the western part of Peninsular Malaysia, with 11 regions recording an unhealthy air pollution index (API). This was conveyed by the Department’s Director General Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar in a statement on Monday evening.
Malaysia said last week that Indonesian fires were to blame for the pollution although Indonesia denied detecting any smoke crossing its border into Malaysia.
According to Wan Abdul Latiff, efforts to clear the air with rain through cloud seeding and other measures to overcome pollution will begin to take place when the API reads 150 for more than 24 hours.
He said schools and kindergartens (TK) should stop all outdoor activities when the API reads 100, and close when it reaches 200.
Meanwhile, environmental group Greenpeace called on countries in the region to introduce legislation to stop plantation companies causing air pollution.
“Imposing domestic transboundary haze measures is necessary as a precautionary measure, especially as there are many adverse impacts on the industry,” said Heng Kiah Chun, regional campaign strategist for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement.