The government is set to start modifying the weather on Monday to create artificial downpours in an endeavor to put out forest fires in Riau.
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said on Sunday that according to a report from the forest fire directorate at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the ministry in cooperation with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) would begin the weather modification on Monday.
She said that the government would maintain a state of emergency in the handling of forest fires and land burning in the hope that all sides would comply with the banning of burning for land-clearing purposes.
'We have made a coordination with security and law enforcement authorities to arrest any companies or farmers using fires in land clearing,' she said as quoted by Antara news agency.
Riau and several other provinces are entering the dry season.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru, Riau, has detected 39 hotspots, mostly in Bengkalis, Meranti, Rokan Hulu, Indragiri Hilir and Pelalawan.
In the past few years, the province has been covered by thick haze during dry season, triggered by forest fires and land clearing. The haze has disturbed not only air transportation to and from Riau but also daily activities both within the province and in neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. The thick haze has also triggered health problem for locals. (rms)(++++)