Indonesia: Air quality index in Riau improving

Antara 30 Jun 13

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Air quality index in Riau has continued to improve in line with the declining number of forest and land fires following fire fighting operations.

The head of public relations and information data center of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said here on Sunday until the 10th day of operations to eradicate haze in Riau several indicators had shown a positive trend.

Based on the results of monitoring through NOAA satellites on June 22 the number of fires was still recorded at 92 while on June 24 it reached 265 but on June 29 only one was left over.

This has resulted in the improvement of air quality in the region and visibility, he said.

On June 20 he said the standard air pollution index in Duri reached 1,048 and in Dumai 688 signalling hazard.

But on June 29 it dropped to 98 SPI in Duri, 78 in Dumai, 59 in Singapore, 48 in Kuala Lumpur and 44 in Selangor, Malaysia.

SPI reading between 300 and 500 shows danger while from 50 to 100 mild effects and below 50 is good.

Sutopo said before operations began on June 21 average visibility was less than 100 meters but from June 26 to 30 it reached one to ten kilometers in several places in Riau.

Efforts to fight land and forest fires are still continuing including water bombing and artificial rain making, he said.

He called on all people to never again conduct burning to clear land as fire hazards remained high in the current dry season until October.


Editor: Jafar M Sidik

Sumatra and Region Breathe Easier as Rains Quell Smog
ID/Aris Cahyadi & ID/Ridho Syukra Jakarta Globe 30 Jun 13;

Whether due to firefighters’ efforts or simply a fortuitous dousing of Riau’s forest fires by rain, which fell last week, new figures show the pall of smog finally lifting from the province and surrounding areas.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNBP) data center chief and spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Sunday that visibility levels had improved significantly in several areas of Riau, now up to between one to 10 kilometers from a murky 100 meters during the peak of the fires early last week.

“The air quality index has also shown an increase,” he said in a text message to BeritaSatu.

Early last week readings on the Pollutant Standards Index, or PSI, in the towns Duri and Dumai in northern Riau had reached 1,048 and 688, respectively.

On Sunday Sutopo said the PSI reading in Duri had now improved to 98, and 78 in Dumai. PSI readings of 300 or higher are categorized as “hazardous,” with anyone exposed possibly subject to “serious health effects,” while readings between 50 and 100 are termed “moderate” and considered to bring few or no health risks for the general public.

Neighboring countries have also enjoyed improving air quality, with pollution levels falling to 50 PSI in Singapore, 48 in Kuala Lumpur and 44 in Selangor.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said the Riau fires would have no impact on the economic partnership and investments between Indonesia and Singapore, despite inflammatory public statements in a spat that seemingly risked ties between the two countries.“It is not true that the haze has caused a disruption in the partnership between Indonesia and Singapore,” he said in Jakarta on Saturday.

Hatta emphasized that the central government, the Riau regional administration and the National Police were jointly still investigating the fires, which had also affected Malaysia.

The minister said the ongoing investigations may lead to prosecutions.