The measure is to anticipate forest and field fires in 2015."
Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Haze from forest and plantation fires blanketed Bagansiapi-api City in Rokan Hilir District, Riau Province, on Tuesday.

"Visibility rate decreases drastically to 500 meters, particularly in the mornings," Aswadi Hamid, a local resident, said Tuesday.

There were no hotspots in Bagansiapi-api; the haze came from neighboring Dumai City and the Bengkalis border areas where forest and plantation fires occurred.

Meanwhile, the government has declared a state of emergency to prevent and handle forest fires in Riau Province, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

"The measure is to anticipate forest and field fires in 2015," Chief of the Public Relations and Information Center of BNPB Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stated on Sunday (Feb. 22).

According to Sutopo, Riau Province bears the brunt of forest fires every year. Based on the hotspot data for the 2006-2014 period, forest fires occurred twice every year in Riau, from February to April and June to October.

The disaster continues unabated every year, despite the government identifying the reasons and purpose of starting forest fires and establishing regulations to prevent them.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya has sought BNPBs assistance to take emergency steps to curb any possibility of the spread of hotspots and fires in Bengkalis District, Riau Province.

"One of the initial efforts is to carry out cloud seeding operations in the near future," Sutopo affirmed.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2015