National

Govt has spent Rp 57.7b
on fighting fires in Riau

The government has spent Rp 57.7 billion (US$5.8 million) on the operation to extinguish land and forest fires in Riau since the haze emergency response-status came into effect in June.

“The funds that have been spent amount to Rp 57.7 billion,” said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNPB) spokesperson for the haze emergency-response working group, Agus Wibowo, on Tuesday as quoted by Antara news agency.

The emergency-response status was announced on June 21 after Indonesia’s two immediate neighbors, Malaysia and Singapore, were badly affected by smoke and haze from raging land and forest fires in Riau.

“Around 2,000 personnel, mostly military and police members, have been deployed to tackle the haze disaster,” said Agus, adding that the personnel would be withdrawn on July 21.

He said funds remained available for forest fire extinguishing operations as the allocated reserve funds amounted to Rp 70 billion.

Agus said the budget was mostly spent on cloud seeding which cost Rp 20 billion. The deployment of police and military personnel cost up to Rp 10 billion.

Haze clouds are no longer affecting the two neighboring countries. Riau is now in a transition period of recovery as it has passed through the haze disaster response period.

However, the extinguishing process is still ongoing in several areas in northern Riau, such as Bengkalis, Dumai and Siak regencies. According to the results of the latest observation activities via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites, hot spots are now detected in only three spots. (ebf)

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