Indonesia — Indonesia had 21,202 hotspots of land and forest fire as of Sept. 7, with 11,393 in central Kalimantan province and 9,808 in Riau province, a minister said on Thursday.
Minister of Environment Rachmat Witoelar said that the two provinces always have forest and land fire in dry season every year.
“This year, smoke triggered by the fire started on July 19 in Sumatra Island while in Kalimantan Island started on Aug. 21,” said Rachmat.
The minister said that the fire was triggered by land clearing that used “cheap method” of burning forest and land by big wood companies and ordinary people.
According to the ministry’s data, in 2006 Indonesia had 33,770 hotspots, 15,939 in 2007 and 17,118 in 2008.
Due to the smoke pollution, Riau province has a dangerous air quality which disrupts air transportation, causing several flight delays in Sutan Syarif Qasim II Airport. Meanwhile, in Central Kalimantan, Palangkaraya Airport has been closed several times.
“Schools are also closed due to the smoke pollution,” he said.
Rachmat said that efforts by his ministry include monitoring, more human resources and more equipment to extinguish fire.
The ministry also fulfilled law enforcement to the forest destroyers.
According to the new law on environment, violators could be sentenced to 3-10 years of jail term and fined 3-10 billion rupiah (300,000 to 1 million U.S. dollars).
He also said that Indonesia has inked cooperation with Singapore and Malaysia to control the fire.