"The community members and plantation companies who are found conducting the burn farming methods will be punished," the South Sumatra Police Headquarters' spokesman, Senior Commissioner Supriadi, said here Wednesday.Palembang, S Sumatra, (ANTARA) - The South Sumatra police have warned plantation companies and farmers in the province against conducting slash and burn farming methods during this year's dry season to avoid the recurrence of land and forest fires. "The community members and plantation companies who are found conducting the burn farming methods will be punished," the South Sumatra Police Headquarters' spokesman, Senior Commissioner Supriadi, said here Wednesday.
The slash and burn agriculture is completely prohibited because it can trigger land and forest fires that cause haze and pollution.
The smog does not harm the health of the locals but neighboring countries have complained of health hazards to their people and the effect on aviation activities, he said.
The owners of farmlands potentially gutted during the dry season should remain cautious, Supriadi said. They have been asked to build canal blockings, and prepare water storage and keep fire extinguishers.
The owners of farmlands who violate the law would be legally sanctioned, he said, adding that the areas of Banyuasin, Musi Banyuasin, Ogan Komering Ilir, and Ogan Ilir Districts are vulnerable to the occurrence of land and forest fires.
In another development, South Sumatra's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has taken precautionary measures by increasing surveillance in several villages in four districts to prevent bush and forest fires in the dry season.
The surveillance mechanism was stepped up since the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, and Musi Banyuasin were repeatedly ravaged by bush and forest fires, Head of the South Sumatra BPBD Iriansyah stated.
His office has added 1,500 personnel comprising those from the BPBD along with the local military and police. During the course of the last few years, 7,649 personnel had undertaken surveillance and mitigation efforts, he said.
With an increase in the personnel, the recurrence of bush and forest fires can be prevented, he remarked, adding that 756 Incident Command Posts will also be reactivated.
South Sumatra and numerous other provinces in Indonesia's Sumatra Island have been repeatedly challenged and threatened by haze, triggered by land and forest fires, over the past years.
Due to this, apart from mitigation efforts, the government has also been adopting preventive measures in the form of restoring peatland areas in South Sumatra, spanning some 594,231 hectares.
The peatland restoration process is expected to be completed in 2020, Head of the Regional PeatLand Restoration Team Najib Asmani had revealed.
The peatlands covered in the restoration program are located in the seven districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, Muaraenim, Penungkal Abab Lematang Ilir, Musi Banyuasin, and Musirawas, he revealed.
The seven districts have wide peatlands, he stated, adding that the districts of Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, and Banyuasin are prone to forest fires that will also ravage peatlands.
Therefore, a long-term preventive measure is deemed necessary in the form of restoration and re-wetting or dampening of peatlands, he emphasized.