Drought likely to trigger forest fires in Riau province

Drought likely to trigger forest fires in Riau province

Ilustrasi - Kebakaran hutan di Riau. (ANTARA FOTO/Taufan Razzak)

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Riau Province is currently experiencing a drought, which has the potential to trigger forest, peat land, and plantation fires.

"As I had earlier informed, starting late May, Riau is experiencing a drought," Ardhitama, an analyst from the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology, and geophysics station, noted here on Wednesday.

However, moderate rains are still expected on Wednesday and during the course of the next few days due to cloud cover over Riau, stated Ardhitama.

"Why are we still having rains during a drought? It is because the disaster mitigation task force is still carrying out cloud seeding to make rains," he added.

The Riau Disaster Mitigation office recently informed that the task force has conducted climate modification by using appropriate technology to produce rains.

The task force used a Hercules A-1328 aircraft, which has a capacity of carrying four tons of salt (NaCI) per sortie for climate modification.

Water bombs were also dropped by Bolcow PK-EAH helicopters, which flew 10 sorties per day. Each sortie dropped 500 kilograms of water. The water bombs were dropped to put out the fires in Siak district.

This year, Indonesia is again expecting El Nino, which tends to become more frequent and stronger due to climate change.

Learning from the lessons of the El Nino-induced forest fires in 1997 and several other years, the government has been making preparations for anticipating the El Nino phenomenon, forecast to develop between May and October 2014.

If forest fires occur during the El Nino phenomenon, it can have serious repercussions since Indonesia will most likely experience an El Nino-induced drought.

"We have to anticipate El Nino and enforce repressive measures against forest and plantation fire setters," Indonesian Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan recently emphasized.

The government can no longer afford to be tolerant towards those setting fires every year, therefore, repressive action must be taken to deter the perpetrators, he reiterated.