Palangka Raya works to halt recurrence of forest fires

Palangka Raya works to halt recurrence of forest fires

Policemen in Central Kalimantan Province probe into areas recently ravaged by fires. (ANTARA/Adi Wibowo)

Banjar Baru, C Kalimantan (ANTARA) - The authorities in Palangka Raya have been striving to halt the recurrence of bush and forest fires in the Central Kalimantan Province's capital city amid the dry season, while the city's health workers are also preparing to help the residents affected by smog.

"At the moment, none of the city's residents are suffering from health problems due to the impact of the smog," Acting Head of the Palangka Raya Health Office, Andjar Hari Purnomo, said here on Thursday.

Over these past few days, bush and forest fires have been spotted in certain areas around the city. On July 2, a thin cloud of smog blanketed the city's sky.

Purnomo said his office has taken precautionary measures to anticipate unexpected eventualities by ensuring the readiness of health centers and the availability of medicines.

As part of the precautionary measures, health workers recently distributed face masks to the city's firefighters, he said.

Several provinces in the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan and Sumatera have frequently been challenged by the recurrence of bush and forest fires partly due to vulnerable peatlands, and the ongoing slash and burn agricultural practice.

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On Thursday afternoon, fire scorched 20 hectares of peatland in two villages of Nagan Raya District, Aceh Province, amid the dry season that has mired fire-extinguishing efforts, Nagan Raya Disaster Mitigation Agency's (BPBD's) Acting Head, Hamidi, stated.

In a bid to prevent the fire from worsening in certain peatland areas in Cot Mue Village in Tadu Raya Sub-district and Kuala Tripa Village in Tripa Makmur Sub-district, BPBD workers had built canal blockings, he revealed.

In South Sumatra, the police had give an ultimatum to the province's plantation companies and farmers to not use slash and burn farming methods during this year's dry season to avoid the recurrences of land and forest fires.

The slash and burn agricultural practice is completely prohibited, as it can trigger the occurrences of land and forest fires that cause a haze crisis.

The smog not only affects the health of the local people but is also a problem for neighboring countries since it potentially threatens the people's health and aviation activities.

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