Source : Jakarta Post – September 17, 2011
By Adianto P. Simamora and Khairul Saleh
The government has started cloud-seeding in Riau and Kalimantan after recording promising results in South Sumatra.
Data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) showed that there were 16 hot spots in Palembang on Tuesday, compared to 400 last Friday, four days before the government started cloud-seeding in the area.
The BNPB, working with the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), has deployed three CASA 211-200 aircraft to disperse salt into the air, to trigger rainfall.
Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that 3 tons of salt had been dispersed into the air above South Sumatra during the three-day cloud-seeding program.
“We will continue this program in Jambi and Central Kalimantan,” he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
The NOAA satellite has detected 362 hot spots in Jambi over the last 13 days, and 416 in Central Kalimantan.
The satellite saw 1,279 hot spots in South Sumatra over the same period.
Sutopo said that despite the high number of hot spots, haze from the fires had not disturbed neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia.
“We [Indonesia] can still handle it [the haze problem],” he said.
The BNPB has allocated Rp 10.3 billion (US$1.17 million) for the cloud-seeding program, which will continue over the next 30 days.
He said that the Singaporean government had sent a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono offering planes to help Indonesia put out the forest fires.
Last October, the governments of Singapore and Malaysia sent letters to Indonesia protesting the thick smoke that was being carried by winds from Indonesian forest fires to their cities.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has forecast that the rainy season will not arrive until October or November in most areas across the archipelago.
The government has marked 10 provinces as prone to forest fires, including South Sumatra, Riau, Kalimantan and Jambi, where 80 percent of fires outside of forest areas have been recorded.
Indonesia is the largest forest nation in the region with 120 million hectares of rain forest.
Despite repeated protests from neighboring nations over the haze, Indonesia is the only ASEAN member state that has not ratified a haze deal.
The deal binds statutory countries to take steps to stop haze pollution from land and forest fires within their territories through strict regulations, heat-seeking satellites and fire fighting training.
ASEAN leaders will hold a summit in November in Bali, where haze and climate change will likely be discussed.
Indonesia has promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent with its own money by 2030, claiming that it can achieve this largely by reducing forest fires.
In a Cabinet meeting in July, President Yudhoyono instructed his ministers to ensure they were prepared to deal with the expected outbreak of forest fires. He told Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono to make this his priority over the next three months.