JAKARTA – The Indonesian government today declared a state of emergency in Riau after the haze situation in the region was reported to be at a dangerous level.
The local media reported the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in the region to exceed 900 with a visibility of less than 100 metre, hence paralysing all economic and social activities, including at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport.
Riau local daily, Tribun Pekanbaru, quoted Acting Riau Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman as saying that the capital of Riau, Pekanbaru, is in a very unhealthy situation.
He said the air quality had reached a dangerous level with API reading exceeding 1000.
Meanwhile, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar was quoted as saying that the local authorities in Riau had been instructed to open health posts.
She said the authorities were also monitoring operations to douse the forest fires and in plantations in Jambi and South Sumatra.
Thick smoke due to forest fires in both the areas was said to have caused serious haze in Malaysia and Singapore.
Siti Nurbaya said efforts douse the forest flames were being intensified using aircraft to water-bomb the raging blazes and conduct cloud-seeding.
“As of now, 18 million litres of water has been poured in Riau and 12 million litres in South Sumatera for the water bomb, and for cloud seeding, 120 tonne of salt has been used in Riau and another 56 tonne in South Sumatra and Jambi,” she added.
President Jokowi, who is now visiting the Middle-East countries, was reported to have directed authorities to take action against those responsible for the forest fires.