Authorities back to fight Johan Setia peat fires again

Authorities back to fight Johan Setia peat fires again
Despite operations to put out the fires from time to time, the peat soil continues to re-ignite the fires within a day, spreading haze to surrounding neighbourhoods in Bukit Tinggi, Bandar Puteri and Kota Kemuning.

KLANG: The authorities are back again at Johan Setia to put out peat fires after carrying out a similar operation last week.

Officers from the Klang Municipal Council and the Fire and Rescue Department were at another hotspot this time to combat thick smog from a peat land, which was caused after crops were burnt by errant farmers.

Despite operations to put out the fires being done from time to time, the soil re-ignites the fires within a day, spreading haze to surrounding neighbourhoods in Bukit Tinggi, Bandar Puteri and Kota Kemuning.

Johan Setia is a residential area that is surrounded by agricultural land and is located along Jalan Banting.

Fire and Rescue Department head of operations Masdar Suminggu said there were four sectors in the area, which were classified as hotspots.

"The last time we held a joint operation was at sector two. Now we are at sector one," he said, adding that fires at other sectors had been put out.

"Water sources are our main concern because it is very hard to find a drain or pipe deep inside this peat land.

"However, we have managed to contain all four sectors for now and daily inspections will be held to ensure the situation did not get any worse," he said, adding that 19 men from his side were involved in the operation.

Selangor executive councillor in charge of environment Elizabeth Wong, who was also present during yesterday's operation, said land owners found condoning open burning would be taken to court.

"There are more than 1,600ha of peat land in Johan Setia, of which 1,200ha are agricultural land," she said.

Asked why the land caught fire frequently, she said it was due to errant farmers burning the land to plant new crops with several of them already being identified.

"We are looking for the land owners and not the workers because the owners are the ones responsible for their own place," she said, adding that most land owners fled when the authorities moved in to put out the fires.

Wong said those responsible would be prosecuted under the Environment Quality Act 2012, which carries a RM500,000 fine or a five-year jail term.

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