Indonesia: Rainfall reduces hotspots in West Kalimantan

Jakarta Post 2 Sep 16;

Light to moderate rain has been falling in a number of regions in West Kalimantan, which has helped reduce the number of hotspots, say forecasters at the Supadio Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) in Pontianak.

On Tuesday afternoon between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., strong winds of over 25 knots hit Pontianak City, causing a number of trees and billboards to fall, as well as damaging dozens of homes.

Supadio BMKG station forecaster Mega Fitriyawita told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that wind speeds at Supadio Airport on Tuesday afternoon reached 31 knots, while in Pontianak 22 knots was reached.

“Wind speed of over 25 knots is categorized as strong wind, where this occurred almost evenly across the 14 regencies and cities in West Kalimantan on Tuesday afternoon, especially in coastal areas in the west,” said Mega, adding that rainfall over the past week was categorized as mild to moderate, ranging between 20 to 35 millimeters daily.

The rainy conditions, Mega said, helped decrease the number of hotspots. West Kalimantan recorded the highest number of hotspots 636 points on Aug. 19.

Pontianak Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) head Aswin Thaufik said strong winds on Tuesday afternoon led to dozens of homes being damaged, mostly with roofs blown away.

“Some of the roofs hit trees and electricity poles, but no casualties occurred,” said Aswin.

Indonesian minister advises maintaining vigil in wake of forest fires
Antara 3 Sep 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has continued to remain vigilant against forest fires, although the number of hotspots across the nation has been reduced by 70-90 percent, according to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Forestry.

Based on data from the 19 observations conducted by NOAA18 satellite, the number of hotspots from January 1 to August 28, this year, decreased to 2,356, or 74.64 percent, compared to 8,247 during the same period last year, the ministry said in a statement posted on the foreign ministrys website.

The largest decline occurred in the provinces of Riau and Central Kalimantan.

In Riau, during the same period in 2015, a total of 1,292 hotspots were reported, while this year, it has dropped to 317. In Central Kalimantan, the number has decreased from 1,137 hotspots last year to 56 this year.

Based on observations by NASAs TERRA and AQUA satellites in the same period, the number of hotspots recorded in 2016 had decreased by 74.7 percent from that in 2015.

Last year, 11,690 hotspots were recorded, while the number dropped to 2,937 in 2016.

The significant decrease cannot be separated from the constant efforts of the integrated team working in the field. They have worked without any holidays and have even spent nights at the scene to keep the fires from spreading. Locations that are difficult to reach by land are being covered through aerial operations to extinguish the fires.

To maximize the efforts to control the fires, the provincial government has also declared the Smoke Disaster Relief Emergency Preparedness Status in provinces, such as Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Jambi, and South Kalimantan.

Additionally, integrated patrols are being conducted to synergize efforts among parties at the community level to prevent land and forest fires. Integrated patrols involve elements of the Mangala Agni, forest police, military, police, the press, NGOs, village officials, and public figures.

The efforts to extinguish the fires by the integrated team are just one of the several steps taken by the government.

The ministry has imposed a temporary moratorium on the issuance of permits for forest management, palm plantations, and the management of peatland areas. This is one step to evaluate and simultaneously streamline the management of natural resources by taking into account environmental factors.

With regard to law enforcement efforts for controlling forest fires, the ministry has adopted a multi-door approach involving administrative sanctions and civil lawsuits.

Currently, some 30 companies are facing administrative sanctions. In addition to formal reprimands, the licenses of companies found guilty will also be revoked either temporarily or permanently.

Besides this, 10 companies are facing civil trials being conducted to improve public perception regarding justice in society, while the handling of criminal charges comes under the jurisdiction of the police.

"We respect the grievances of neighboring countries, but we do not work to handle land and forest fires due to pressure by other countries. Indonesia adheres to the principle of participation in the establishment of world order based on peace and not due to pressure," Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar affirmed.

Govt preparing steps to face floods, landslides
Antara 3 Sep 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government held a coordination meeting on Friday to discuss anticipatory steps to be taken in the face of possible floods and landslides as the rainy season approaches in the country.

"We held a coordination meeting to ensure that all relevant parities remain in a state of readiness in the face of landslides and flood disasters," Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture, Puan Maharani, said here on Friday.

The meeting was also attended by Health Minister Nila F Moeloek, Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei and a number of officials/representatives of ministries and other state institutions.

The meeting also discussed the measures taken to familiarize people and educate them about handling natural disasters.

Other issues discussed in the meeting included the availability of flood and landslides related equipment; operations and logistical supports offered by the emergency command posts; and other matters in which steps are still to be taken by the relevant parties.

Based on a presidential instruction on flood and landslide disaster, each of the ministries/ state institutions and the relevant regional governments now know of their duties, beginning from prevention, disaster handling and post disaster restoration.

"However, prevention is more important when it comes to handling floods and landslides, and must be made a part of the planned and systematic effort," he added.(*)

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