Bogor, W Java (ANTARA) - Indonesia is bracing for a devastating and protracted drought this year, according to the warning of the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), with the condition likely to peak in August and September.

Those residing in the affected areas should maintain vigil to deal with the impact of this drought that has been afflicting several parts of the country.

The drought has not merely led to a scarcity of clean water and a deterioration in the air quality but it has also triggered potential recurrence of bush and forest fires in certain provinces.

In Banyumas, Central Java Province, for instance, the district's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) confirmed on Friday that some 3,150 families in 12 villages are reeling from a clean water crisis resulting from the devastating drought.

In dealing with the scarcity of clean water amid this year's dry season, the BPBD has prepared one thousand water tanks and regularly distributed clean water supplies to meet the requirement of some 10,876 people.

Related news: Water crisis cripples life in Central Java's Banyumas

The drought has resulted in the air quality deteriorating in Indonesia's polluted cities, while certain provinces in the islands of Sumatera and Kalimantan are bracing for a potential recurrence of bush and forest fires.

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

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

The authorities in Palangka Raya are also striving to halt the recurrence of bush and forest fires in Central Kalimantan Province's capital city amid this dry season, while the city's health workers are also preparing to help those affected by smog.

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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 had blanketed the city's sky.

However, currently, none of the city's residents ail from health problems owing to the impact of smog, Acting Head of the Palangka Raya Health Office, Andjar Hari Purnomo, revealed.

As a precautionary measure against untoward incidents, his office has ensured 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, Purnomo revealed.

Authorities in the provinces of South Sumatra and Riau in Sumatra Island that have been repeatedly challenged and threatened by haze, triggered by land and forest fires, over the past years, have also taken precautionary measures.

They do not just involve those from the civilian, police, and military institutions but also community members.

In South Sumatra Province, the Indonesian military partakes in the efforts by regularly holding public awareness campaigns on how to prevent potential recurrence of bush and forest fires in several districts.

The campaigns highlighting the importance of taking precautionary measures have been conducted in districts, such as Banyuasin and Ogan Komering Ilir, according to Chief of the 044/Garuda Dempo Military Resort Command Major Binsar J. Simanjuntak.

Speaking to local journalists recently, Simanjuntak confirmed that precautionary measures were also taken by the land and forest fire task force by monitoring vulnerable areas.

The same preventive measures have also been taken by the Banyuasin district military command.

Considering the importance of law enforcement in tackling the recurrence of bush and forest fires, the South Sumatra police have warned plantation companies and farmers in the province against using slash and burn farming methods during the dry season.

"Community members and plantation companies found conducting slash and burn farming methods will be punished," South Sumatra Police Headquarters' spokesman, Senior Commissioner Supriadi, stated.

The owners of farmlands potentially gutted by fire during the dry season should remain cautious. They have been urged to build canal blockings, prepare water storage facilities, and keep fire extinguishers handy.

Supriadi has warned that owners of farmlands found violating the law will be legally sanctioned.

Stern actions should be taken against those responsible for triggering the recurrence of bush and forest fires to safeguard Indonesia's image and credibility by taking into account the direct and indirect impact of a haze crisis on its neighboring countries.

The smog not only harms the health of the local people but is also a problem for Indonesia's neighboring countries, as it potentially threatens their people's health and aviation activities.

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Editor: Sri Haryati
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