Our focus now is on extinguishing forest fires in the two areas."
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The number of hot spots that cause forest fires in several locations in Riau Province has been decreasing from 50 last week to only 19, spokesman to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Agus Wibowo said here on Friday.

According to a recent survey by the agency, most of the existing hot spots are located in Pelalawan District and Dumai.

"Our focus now is on extinguishing forest fires in the two areas. Today four choppers will be deployed to Pelalawan district and Dumai city to initiate water bomb above the area," he said.

A total of Rp100 billion has been allocated for making rain, procuring materials and providing planes to conduct water bombing to fight forest and land fires in Riau province.

"The government would lease planes from Korea and Russia that are able to carry 4,000 to 5,000 liters of water for water bombing operations," Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono said after a coordination meeting to discuss the problem here on last Thursday (June 27).

The meeting at the Forestry Ministry was attended by Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI)`s Commander Admiral Agus Suhartono, Environmental Affairs Minister Balthazar Kambuaya, Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana, and officials from the police force, the Attorney General Office.

Also the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the national development planning board (Bappnenas), the Agency for Technology Assessment and Application (BPPT), the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan), the ministry of research and technology, the ministry of agriculture and from Jambi, South Sumatra and South Kalimantan provincial administrations.

Agung said the meeting did not only discuss fires in Riau but also anticipatory measures in eight other provinces.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan meanwhile said 14 people were currently being questioned with regard to the fires. They consist of 11 persons from plantation companies and three from local communities.

"If proven guilty they could be jailed for five years and have their permits revoked," he said.

He said the government is now still focusing on fighting the fires and is expecting support from all parties.

"We need support from all parties and all companies must protect their forests from fires," he said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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