The Jakarta Post
Riau acting governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman declared an air-pollution emergency in the province on Monday as a thick haze caused by land and forest fires continues to blanket the area, as it has done since the beginning of September.
'Concerning the fact that in the past week, the Air Pollution Standard Index [ISPU] in Riau had stayed above 300psi, which is dangerous, we decided to declare an air-pollution emergency for the province,' the acting governor said in Pekanbaru, on Monday.
He was speaking in the Riau administration's Land and Forest Fire Task Force post at Roesmin Nurjadin Airport, Pekanbaru.
Before he declared the environmental emergency, Arsyadjuliandi and several officials ' including Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Dolly Bambang Hermawan, Roesmin Nurjadin Airport commander Hendri Alfiandi, Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Said Saqlul Amri, and Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin ' held a closed-door meeting to discuss the latest situation of the haze disaster in the province.
The acting governor said the declaration of an air-pollution emergency for Riau also came as a directive from the Environment and Forestry Ministry. Following the move, he said, the Riau administration, through the Land and Forest Fire Task Force, would put implement a number of policies, including increasing the number of health posts from the six currently in place.
Arsyadjuliandi said he would ask all community health centers in Riau to open for 24 hours, with at least one doctor available in each. He further said he had asked the Education Agency to make urgent decisions regarding schools across the province, including around whether they should tell students to stay home for health reasons.
The acting governor said that with the upgraded status, Riau would ask the central government to take immediate action to help it tackle the problem. The central government's help is important as the thick smoke currently blanketing Riau mostly comes from fires in other provinces, namely Jambi and South Sumatra.
'The number of hot spots in Riau during the last several weeks has been quite low. Jambi and South Sumatra have a far higher number of hot spots. They are causing thick smoke, which has reached Riau as wind has been blowing in a northerly and westerly direction,' said Arsyadjuliandi, adding that he and five other governors would attend a coordinating meeting in Jakarta on Tuesday to tackle the haze issue.
The BMKG said that based on data from NASA satellites, 982 hot spots had been detected in Sumatra on Monday, 618 of which were in South Sumatra and the remaining 184 in Jambi.
'In Riau, just 55 hot spots have been detected across five regencies,' said BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin. (rad/ebf)
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