The Jakarta Post
The Riau Police have established a team to hunt for forest and land burners as open burning activities have become more rampant in the province.
Excessive burning has aggravated thick clouds of haze affecting areas in Riau and has forced the provincial administration to extend its smoke emergency status until March 26.
The joint team comprising police and military personnel, forest rangers, as well as prosecutor offices and National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) officials, is divided into nine groups consisting of between 50 and 70 personnel each.
Riau Police chief Brig.Gen.Condro Kirono said similar teams were formed in the past.
'They all worked on their own, however. Now, they are united under one command,' said Condro, who is also deputy commander for law enforcement at the Riau haze mitigation task force.
He was speaking after dispatching the team in a ceremony at the Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base in Pekanbaru on Wednesday.
'We deliberately formed a team to hunt for alleged land burning perpetrators so that, from now on, law enforcement can be carried out widely,' Condro said.
He further said police and military personnel involved in the operation would be equipped with weapons to create a deterrent effect.
Two locations that will reportedly be the main targets of the team are Giam Siak Kecil biosphere reserve area in Bukit Batu district, Bengkalis and peat forests in Teluk Meranti district, Pelalawan.
Five groups have been dispatched to Giam Siak Kecil to hunt for thousands of illegal loggers who have destroyed the conservation area while the remaining four groups will be sent to Teluk Meranti to prevent fires in the peat forests from spreading.
'Teluk Meranti was one of areas that was worst hit by forest fires in Pelalawan,' said Condro.
There was a significant rise in the number of hotspots detected in Riau on Wednesday. According to satellite observations by the Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the total number of hotspots in Sumatra had reached 2,390, 2,046 of which were in Riau.
'[On Tuesday] there were only 63 hotspots in Riau,' said the BMKG Pekanbaru's head of data and information, Slamet Riyadi. (tjs/ebf)
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