Pekanbaru, Riau Province (ANTARA News) – Riau Governor Rusli Zainal has ordered arrest of people who set fire to forest and plantation areas which has been blazing since the past two days in the province.
“I order the police and other authorities to investigate those who set the fire to the forest and plantation areas, Governor Rusli Zainal said here Thursday.
The Governor has also ordered the putting out of fires in a number of hot spots detected in the province.
“At present, a number of hot spots are found in several towns and districts, therefore the local authorities must be proactive in dealing with the fire problem maximally,” he said.
He has also urged the people to participate in putting the fires out because the haze has badly affected their health.
The Riau environmental impact control body (Bapedalda) reported that there were around 10,000 hectares of peat fields on fire in the province s Dumai, Bengkalis, and Rokan Hilir.
Weather satellite in Sumatra recently detected at least 40 hot spots in Dumai and Rokan Hilir districts. Due to the forest fires from Dumai, Rokan Hilir, and Pekanbaru was currently covered by haze.
Indonesia has the third largest forest areas in the world after Brazil and Zaire. Around 2.8 million hectares of the country`s forest areas disappear every year, mainly due to illegal logging activities and forest fires.
Forest fires occur almost every year in Indonesia mainly due to drought and illegal opening of plantations, despite the government s ban. Most of the fires were started deliberately, some by individual farmers hoping to plant a few crops under the jungle canopy, others by commercial plantations cashing in on demand for rubber and palm oil.
Setting fire to the land is the quickest, cheapest way of clearing land. Any other method in the former tropical forests of Indonesia is much more difficult. (*)