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Several states on the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak are currently facing hazy conditions following forest fires over six regions in Indonesia over the past four days.NSTP/Zaman Huri Isa

KOTA BARU: The Kelantan Department of Environment (DoE) has deployed a team to scout fire-prone areas in the state for possible open burning activities which could exacerbate the haze situation.

State DoE director Hamzah Muhamad said the team began their operations on Sunday to check for possible activities which could worsen the air pollution levels in the state.

“At the moment, our focus will be on peat land, especially in Bachok. The team will also focus on any open burning activities and to take necessary action against those involved,” he said.

However, Hamzah noted that the Air Pollution Index (API) readings at two locations in Kelantan were at moderate levels.

“As of 1pm today, the reading at Kota Baru was 82 while Tanah Merah was 72, all in the moderate category,” he said.

API readings of 0 to 50 are categorised as good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy) and over 301 (dangerous).

He warned the public not to carry out any open-burning activities. He also advised motorists who use diesel to check their vehicles properly so that they would not emit excessive smoke emission.

Open burning is an offence under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974. Those who carried out open burning, if convicted, could be fined RM500,000 or could face a jail term not exceeding five years or both.

Malaysian Meteorological Department director-general Jailan Simon in a recent statement had said that the haze in the country was expected to persist following the existence of 31 hotspots in the region.

Several states on the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak are currently facing hazy conditions following forest fires over six regions in Indonesia over the past four days.

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