Fears drought may trigger forest fires again in Riau

Riau is currently experiencing a drought that has the potential to trigger forest, peatland and plantation fires, which frequently cause choking haze in surrounding areas, including neighboring countries.

“As I earlier stated, starting late May, Riau has been experiencing a drought,” Ardhitama, an analyst from the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology, and geophysics station, said in Pekanbaru on Wednesday as quoted by Antara news agency.

However, moderate rains are still expected on Wednesday and the next few days due to cloud cover over Riau, said 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 the rain,” he added.

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

The task force used a Hercules A-1328 aircraft, which has the capacity to carry 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 half a ton of water. The water bombs were dropped to put out fires in Siak regency.

This year Indonesia is again expecting the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has tended to become more frequent and stronger due to climate change.

“We have to anticipate El Nino and enforce repressive measures against forest and plantation fire setters,” Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said recently.

The government could no longer afford to be tolerant toward those setting fires every year, therefore, repressive action had to be taken to deter the perpetrators, he said.

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