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West Kalimantan Invaded by Smoke Haze

Pontianak Forest and land fires (karhutla) are an annual problem in West Kalimantan. The fall in the intensity of rain during the dry season increases the number of hotspots in the region.

Spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the satellite detected at least 126 hot spots on Sunday (7/30) yesterday. The hot spots are scattered in a number of regions in West Kalimantan. This amount puts West Kalimantan as the region with the most hot spots in Indonesia.

Sutopo said that forest and land fires in West Kalimantan had not been extinguished. In the last four days the fires continued to spread. Hotspot distribution in West Kalimantan is in Sintang 40, Kapuas Hulu 36, Sanggau 26, Landak 10, Sekadau 3, Bengkayang 2, and Melawi 2. "Most of the burned land is peatland," Sutopo said, Sunday (7/30) .

According to Sutopo, land clearing by burning is still widely practiced in this area. Even though it's been banned, calls are often made. "Patrols to remote areas have been carried out, but in reality there are still many forest and land fires," he said.
This photo was taken a few days ago on Ahmad Yani Street in Pontianak. Photo of Asep Haryono
This photo was taken a few days ago on Ahmad Yani Street in Pontianak. Photo of Asep Haryono

Monitoring of Himawari satellite from BMKG shows that thin smoke has spread in several regions in West Kalimantan. The smoke movement on Saturday (7/29) afternoon showed that smoke from around the Ketapang Regency spread to North Kayong, Kubu Raya and Pontianak. While the smoke around Sanggau, Sekadau, Sintang and Kapuas Hulu Districts is generally not carried away from hotspot locations.

Extinguishing efforts continue to be carried out by the integrated task force to control forest and land fires. BNPB deployed 4 water bombing helicopters namely Bell 214B, MI-8, Kamov KA32 and Bolcow 105. The land task force consisted of TNI, Polri, BPBD, Manggala Agni, MPA, Damkar and the community put out in several hotspot locations.

According to Sutopo, the problem with the land task force is the extent of the area that must be maintained, access to the fire location is often difficult in the terrain. In addition, the limited water source from the location of the fire, limited equipment, dry weather, and the level of public awareness not to burn is still quite low.

Peak dry season is expected to last until September. So that the threat of forest and land fires can increase.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Bambang Hendroyono said, integrated handling in dealing with forest and land fires must be improved on all fronts. "Including the lowest line," he said during a visit to Pontianak yesterday. Efforts to prevent forest and land fires, continued Bambang, must continue to be prioritized, especially in 174 vulnerable villages in West Kalimantan.

Meanwhile, the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) of West Kalimantan has set a haze emergency status. Smoke emergency status has been set at the beginning of June 2017. This status only ends on 30 October. BPBD predicts, the smoke haze caused by forest fires will still occur in West Kalimantan in the foreseeable future. At present, a number of regencies and cities have begun to be covered in smoke, although not yet so thick.

Head of the Pontianak Environmental Service, Sri Sujiarti said, the air condition in Pontianak had been in an unhealthy state a few days ago. The smoke coming from the neighboring district. "Pontianak is exposed to smoke from other regions. We have already checked with BMKG, "he explained.

Head of the Pontianak City Disaster Management Agency (BPBD), Aswin Taufik said, this year there had been 11 land fires in Pontianak. Based on the data, the total land fires in Pontianak in the period of 2012 to 2017 reached 179 events. With details of 2012 as many as 15 times, 2013 as many as 13 fires, 2014 as many as 66 fires, 2015 as many as 30 fires, while in 2016 there were 55 fires.

Executive Director of the West Kalimantan Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi), Anton P Widjaya, assessed that in the context of emergency (emergency) the government is ready to handle forest and land fires. Therefore Anton questioned why forest and land fires continue to occur in this province.

According to Anton, this happened because of weak law enforcement against land-burning perpetrators. "For the emergency context, the government is very prepared in handling emergency forest and land fires. Our problem is actually not ready not to be ready to extinguish but why there are always forest and land fires in our region (West Kalimantan), "Anton told Pontianak Post, Sunday (7/30).

Anton realized that overcoming the fire problem was not easy. But what needs to be done is not only when a fire has occurred. But how to solve it completely. Good awareness, prevent, take action or ensure the accountability of land owners whose concessions are burned or burned. "This comprehensive context has not been successful," he said.

Anton criticized the weak law enforcement against plantation concessionaires whose land was burned. "As there is impunity for land concession owners (
(iza/arf/den - Pontianak Post)

Reference :
Orginal Title : Kabut Asap Ancam Kalbar
Writter : iza/arf/den
Translation into English : Asep Haryono

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