PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — Malaysia is expected to be free of the El Nino and La Nina phenomenon this year, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said based on the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) report, the country is expected to receive normal rainfall for September and October this year while occurrences of exceptionally high temperature, drought and haze are also not expected.

MetMalaysia’s forecast since last year until now is very accurate. I am confident, with this forecast, our country will not experience severe effects of the El Nina and La Nina phenomenon this year, he said at a news conference after chairing the National Haze and Dry Weather Committee meeting here today.

Wan Junaidi said the meeting agreed on a thorough monitoring of the peat soils with frequent combustion by activating the Fire Prevention and Peat Soil Management Operations programme’s operational procedures.

Hence, he said the Mineral and Geoscience Department would conduct a comprehensive study on the construction of check dams and tube wells to address the haze problem through peat soil management.

He said the tube wells is a ground water system used to pump water into the peat soil and would be activated when the fires occurred in the peat soil or water level dropped in the peat soil layers.

As of the end of last year, 236 check dams and 67 tube wells were built in Johor, Kelantan, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu, he said.

Wan Junaidi said 918 cases of open fire nationwide were detected in the first eight months of this year.

According to DOE date, he said there were 64 cases of open fire involving forest areas, agricultural areas (142 cases), industrial areas (20 cases), construction sites (36 cases), garbage disposal sites (61 cases), secondary forest (90 cases) and other small fires (504 cases).

During the same period, enforcement action was taken against 149 cases of open fires that were issued with compounds, eight cases with notices of order and 17 cases issued with letters of order.