Indonesia: Haze begins to disrupt flights in West Kalimantan

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 11 Aug 16;

Haze blanketed a number of regions in West Kalimantan from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning and was visible especially in Pontianak as days before the sky over the city had been relatively clear.

West Kalimantan councilor Maskendari said he had to wait 45 minutes before the sky was clear enough for the plane he was on to take off from Supadio Airport in Pontianak and head to Jakarta via Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday morning.

“When heading to the airport from home I saw the haze was relatively thick. I estimate that visibility was less than 200 meters,” Maskendari told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, adding that his flight was initially scheduled for 7:40 a.m.

Airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II’s general manager at Supadio Airport, Bayuh Iswantoro, however, assured that the haze had yet to disrupt flights.

“Haze appeared at 6 a.m. with a visibility of 100 meters. Alhamdulillah [praise Allah] it returned to normal again at 7 a.m. and caused no delays,” Bayuh said.

Dozens of hot spots were detected in a number of regencies in the province, according to the Sensor Modis and NoAA satellites.

A forecaster on duty at Supadio Airport’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) station, Mega Fitriyawita, said the Sensor Modis satellite detected 17 hot spots, 15 of which were in Sanggau regency and one each in Landak and Sambas regencies.

The NoAA satellite, meanwhile, detected 18 hot spots, five of which were detected in Sanggau regency, three in each Sintang, Landak, Melawi and Kapuas Hulu regencies and one in Ketapang.

West Kalimantan Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head TTA Nyarong said the provincial administration had declared an alert status for haze on June 1.

Some 74,000 hectares of peatland caught fire last year, significantly contributing to the thickness of the haze in the province.

“We are examining the locations of the new hot spots to see if they are on plantation concessions or on people’s land,” said Nyarong, adding that teams had been set up at the provincial and lower levels of administration in anticipation of a haze disaster.

According to the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s website, sipongi.menlhk.go.id, total forest area and land burned in West Kalimantan last year was 3,191.98 hectares, a decrease from 2014’s 3,556.10 hectares.

The figure this year so far is 183.65 hectares.

The West Kalimantan Police are processing 35 cases of 2015 forest and land fires, four of which allegedly involved corporations and the remaining 31 individuals. The four former cases were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

West Kalimantan Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Suhadi SW said that in the cases, corporations had been suspected of each setting fire to 20 hectares or more of land while individuals allegedly burned two hectares or more.

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