Saturday, August 09, 2008

DOE takes landowner to court for open burning

The Pakatan Government of Selangor has done Mother Earth a good deed. Never before seen such action during the previous State Government. Congratulations and we are with you!
Read story below:
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Aug 8, 08 12:06pm

A downpour helped quash much of a fire that had been ranging in Dengkil, Selangor, since early this month. However, that will not save the owner of a 658-hectare piece of land from being charged in court for open burning.

Selangor executive councillor in charge of tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said the state government had ordered that the owner of the land, Pertubuhan Peladang Negeri Selangor (PPNS), be charged under Section 29(a) of the Environment Quality Act 1974.

If found guilty, PPNS directors face a fine of up to RM500,000 or five years jail, or both.

"We've given the green light to the state Department of Environment (DOE) for PPNS to be taken to court," she told reporters yesterday when met at the site where the fires have been raging since early this month. Despite the heavy rain, the surrounding trees and bush were still smoldering yesterday.

"This will send a clear message that this sort of thing cannot be done to the detriment of the environment and public health," Wong added.

Workers for PPNS allegedly started the fires to facilitate clearance works to make way for a palm oil plantation project.

When contacted, Selangor DOE director Che Asmah Ibrahim said the suit was registered at the Klang Sessions Court yesterday.

"It will take about two weeks for the court to fix a date for mention," said Che Asmah.

Danger of fires spreading

Fire and Rescue Department spokesperson Zaki Omar, meanwhile, said fires have been detected on a total of 65.97 hectares of land in seven different parts of the area since early this month.

"Up until 12 noon today (yesterday), the fires in sectors 1, 4 and 5 have been put out," said Zaki, adding that theses areas amounted to 40.47 hectares.

Despite yesterday's downpour, there remains a danger of embers in the undergrowth causing more fires that could spread north along the peat belt to as far as Batang Berjuntai, about 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur.

Wong, who had earlier been briefed by the management of the Paya Indah Wetlands, which is located next to the PPNS land, said there were also concerns of the fires affecting wildlife in the wetlands.

State Department of Wildlife and National Parks Superintendent Salman Saaban said there has already been a noticeable decline in birds in the wetlands recently.

Compounding matters further is the declining amount of water flowing into the wetlands from Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, added Salman.

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