It should be kept in mind that once the fires break out ..."
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Forest and land fires occurring in the Riau Province between February and April 2014 caused economic losses worth more than Rp20 trillion, as per data furnished by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

"It should be kept in mind that once the fires break out, it will be difficult to extinguish them and can cause huge losses," BNPB Chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho recently stated here.

The haze disaster triggered by the fires disrupted around 30 percent of the economic activities and caused monetary losses in Riau.

The BNPB had spent around Rp164 billion, or one-third of its budget, to deal with the fires nationally.

The fires also caused environmental damages as more than 21.9 thousand hectares of forest and plantation areas were gutted by the fires.

The haze also affected the health of several residents in Riau and the neighboring provinces, such as in West and North Sumatra.

The largest loss caused by forest and land fires in Indonesia was in 1997, when fires wiped out millions of hectares of forest and plantation areas and caused losses worth US$2.45 billion.

The El Nino phenomenon is forecast to develop and affect Indonesia between May and October 2014. El Nino-induced drought usually triggers forest and peatland fires in Indonesia.

According to President Director of PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) Kusnan Rahmin, his company failed to achieve its targets of production and planting as a result of the fires.

"The worst is the damage on our companys image internationally because although we did not start the fires, our company was mentioned as one of the areas affected by the fires," he pointed out.

PT RAPP deployed, among other resources, hundreds of workers, two helicopters, and 30 water pumps to help put out the fires, he emphasized.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2014