Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) will develop infrastructure for peat rewetting in areas in Riau Province, with no record of land and forest fires.

"We have a mechanism to facilitate the development of infrastructure for peat rewetting in areas that earlier are not in our working plan," BRG Head Nazir Foead remarked here on Monday.

During a meeting with the Riau governor, regional disaster mitigation agency (BPBD), and Environment and Forestry Office that better understand the condition in Riau, Nazir was informed that in areas prone to land and forest fires in the eastern coast of the province, less reports of forest and land fires were received this year.

Moreover, with the assistance of 1,500 personnel deployed to Riau since last month, fires in the area could be extinguished promptly.

Reports on land and forest fires have surfaced from areas not having a record of land and forest fire recurrences, he remarked.

A report of the BRG team indicated that areas in which the agency had developed canal blocks and artesian wells are relatively safe from the fire.

"When we visited the Sungai Tohor area, the village's head said no rainfall was received in the past three months, but the peats are still wet owing to the canal block," he pointed out.

The Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) had detected 85 hotspots, indicating potential occurrences of bush and forest fires, in several parts of Sumatra Island last week.

On Friday (Aug 2) morning, 54 hotspots were detected in Riau Province, but this figure had decreased significantly, from 126 hotspots on Thursday (Aug 1).

Haze from forest fires had shrouded Pekanbaru over the last several days, triggering respiratory ailments among some 700 people in the city.

The authorities had warned local residents to stay indoors to prevent haze from affecting their health, Yohanes, secretary of the Riau Health Office, stated on Sunday. Related news: Fire razes hectares of peatland on Pekanbaru's outskirts


Translator: Virna P Setyorini, Sri Haryati
Editor: Suharto
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