Pekan Baru, Indonesia — The authorities in Riau on Sumatra island have ordered all district chiefs to cooperate to end the burning of forests which is causing haze to spread across the region, including this provincial capital.
Governor Rusli Zainal said the community must take responsibility to overcome the problem and not placed their hopes entirely on the authorities and plantations.
He said the haze had affected the health of the people, restricted social activities and disrupted land, sea and air transport.
“This disaster is the top priority of Riau as well as the nation because its effects are also felt by neighbouring countries,” he said in a report carried by Media Indonesia Online Saturday.
Rusli said the Riau authorities, which were monitoring the situation from the air with helicopters, would take legal action against those who caused the fires, whether they be individuals or plantations.
Riau police chief Brig Gen Ito Sumardi said the police had recorded statements on the forest fires in several districts from the village heads.
“It is not possible that the local officials don’t know about the burning of forests or other land in their areas,” he said.