KLANG, June 25: A total of 12 landowners involved in open burning activities in the state at the expense of the environmental air quality will be charged in court in the near future.
According to the Executive Councillor for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment, Elizabeth Wong, the local authorities will also begin the process to seize land from these individuals.
She said that the Department of Environment (DOE) is identifying the landowners while investigation papers are being opened.
“We will be firm in the matter of open burning. There are various agencies that are cooperating, including the Klang Municipal Council (MPK), that are monitoring and extinguishing small fires.
“Meanwhile, for fires that cannot be controlled, the extinguishing task will be performed by the fire department,” said Elizabeth.
She said this when she was met during a visit to the fire site here at Kampung Johan Setia today.
“In Selangor, we have policies where of a landowner does not take care of their land by allowing the occurrence of fires and if they erect border fencing, the land will be seized,” said Elizabeth.
She said that Johan Setia and its surroundings will be monitored from time to time to ensure that no forest fires take place and no new farms are created.
She said that the fire that happened there is now under the control of the Fire and Rescue Department and overall extinguishing efforts will be intensified.
“With 24 hours of work every day since the end of May and with MPK and the Fire Department performing their fire fighting duties.
“We stress that if any area in this state is found to not extinguish fires, we will use legal action against them.
She said that those involved would be charged under the Environmental Quality Act 1974, and if found guilty, a fine of RM500,000 or imprisonment for five years or both would be imposed.
“We urge the judges because we have special courts for environmental issues so that (the punishment) would not only be a fine.
“These are precautions so that people would be afraid to conduct open burning activities,” she said.
She also reminded the public to not arbitrarily perform open burning such as burning rubbish and garden waste that could affect the air quality due to the haze that has hit the country.
“We assert that now, there is a blanket ban against any open burning regardless of whether it is in a residential area or agricultural areas and so on,” she said.