Indonesia: Satellites Detect 15 Hotspots in Riau

Tempo 13 Feb 18;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Terra and Aqua satellites detected 15 hotspots indicating forest and plantation fires in Riau Province, Monday. The 15 hotspots emerged in four districts of the province, Slamet Riyadi, head of the data and information section of the Pekanbaru meteorology station, stated.

"The hotspots, with a confidence level of above 50 percent, were detected in Meranti Islands, Indragiri Hilir, Pelalawan, and Bengkalis districts," he remarked.

Nine of the 15 hotspots were confirmed to have arisen from wildfires, he noted. Of the nine hotspots, five were found in Meranti Islands, two in Pelalawan, and two in Indragiri Hilir.

Senior Commissioner Guntur Aryo Tejo, spokesman of the Riau Provincial Police, urged local farmers to not use fire to clear land for farming area. Those found violating the rule will face 10 years' imprisonment and have to pay a fine of up to Rp10 billion, he remarked.

The Pelalawan police have arrested a farmer identified by his initial as M in early February for using fire to clear land for starting a chili farm. Several provinces on Sumatra Island had in the past borne witness to forest fires that produced smoke or haze shrouding several cities.

However, over the past couple of years, the Indonesian authorities have managed to significantly reduce the number of wildfires, thereby preventing the occurrence of haze.

Despite the success, the Indonesian government remains vigilant and is currently implementing preventive measures to ensure that forest fires will not occur during the implementation of the 18th Asian Games to be co-host by Jakarta and Palembang in South Sumatra.

"This year, we will host the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang. I remind you to not let the smoke from forest and land fires arise during the implementation of the event," President Joko Widodo noted during a briefing to participants of the National Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fire Control in 2018 at the State Palace in Jakarta on February 6, 2018.

He pointed out that haze from forest and land fires will tarnish the image of Indonesia and disrupt flights during the Asian Games.