Khairul Saleh , The Jakarta Post , Palembang, South Sumatra | Tue, 08/04/2009
The South Sumatra forestry agency said satellite footage had shown the existence of 90 hotspots across the province.
The agency’s head of forest and land control Hasanuddin said 23 of the hot spots were located in Musi Rawas regency, 13 each in Ogan Komering Ulu and Muba regencies, 11 in Muara Enim, 10 in Ogan Komering Ilir and the rest in Lubuklinggau, Lahat, Prabumulih, South Ogan Kemering Ulu and Banyuasin.
“So far, the fires were set to clear land and have not sparked prolonged haze. The fires commonly cease after two or three hours,” Hasanuddin said.
The agency, however, has intensified its patrolling in the areas most prone to forest and bush fires, particularly in peatland areas.
He said locals had been informed about the danger of clearing land using fire, but they had ignored the government’s warningl.
“They said they had no other methods that were cheaper and faster than burning their land,” Hasanuddin said.
Minister plays down Riau, Jambi forest fires
Fadli , The Jakarta Post , Batam | Tue, 08/04/2009
A minister says the government does not consider forest fires in Riau and Jambi provinces a pressing problem despite evidence they have caused health problems.
Forestry Minister MS Kaban said the government would only take firm action to control fires if the haze disturbed flights and sparked protests in neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore.
“We must accept the fact that haze might reach other regions like Batam and other parts of Sumatra. Why should we care about domestic affairs? People in other countries will laugh at us,” Kaban told a media briefing.
He blamed the fires on local people clearing land the traditional way and on oil palm companies.
“The local people burn wood as they cannot afford to buy tractors to clear the land. Companies also start fires,” he said.
He added the government would not ask the police to arrest the people responsible for starting fires.