Cloud-seeding operations in 3 Indonesian provinces

Boat owners waiting for passengers at the Palembang Jetty. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Indonesia has begun cloud-seeding and water-bombing operations in Riau, South Sumatra and West Kalimantan in hopes of curbing the haze-causing fires in those provinces.

Four aircraft and eight helicopters have been deployed in the effort led by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and the National Technology and Applied Science Agency (BPPT), according to BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

These operations will continue until at least November, he said.

So far, Jambi province has been excluded from the cloud-seeding and water-bombing, even though it recorded 130 hot spots and the worsening haze has caused acute respiratory infections.

Jambi city, the capital, has the most number of suffering residents, with 3,910, followed by East Tanjungjabung regency with 2,390, and Muarojambi regency 1,690, the Kompas daily reported.

"Fires in Jambi have been spreading in the past two weeks, but the governor of the province has not declared a state of emergency," said Mr Sutopo. "We have asked them to declare such status so Jakarta can help."

Indonesia ceded a range of powers to the regional governments under a 1999 decentralisation law. Since then, certain actions in each of the provinces can only be carried out with consent from their administrations.

Mr Sumardi, 56, a retired Jambi civil servant who lives in the city's Simpang Pulai area, told The Straits Times by telephone: "The past two days have been so bad. And we have had thick haze that hurt our eyes since more than a week ago."

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2015, with the headline Cloud-seeding operations in 3 Indonesian provinces. Subscribe