Updates: Transboundary Haze Pollutions and Corporate/Mafia Crimes

(Antara/Rony Muharrman)

(Antara/Rony Muharrman)

54,135 people in Riau suffer from haze-related illnesses

thejakartapost.com, Jakarta | Archipelago | Sat, October 03 2015, 8:47 PM

Up to 54,135 people in Riau have experienced haze-related health issues, according to the Riau Health Agency, as ash from the province’s land and forest fires kept the Air Pollution Standard Index (ISPU) at an “unhealthy level” on Saturday.

About 44,960 patients are suffering from acute respiratory infections [ISPA], while others are experiencing skin irritation [3,589], eye irritation [2,753], asthma [2,064] and pneumonia [769],” said agency head Andra Sjafril on Saturday as quoted by tempo.co.

According to Andra, in addition to providing 24-hour service at community health centers (Puskesmas) in regencies and cities, the agency is also offering services through a mobile clinic.

Treatment is free. If there is an emergency, patients will be referred to Arifin Ahmad General Hospital in Pekanbaru,” said Andra.

He added that medicine supplies were sufficient since the agency was receiving support from the Health Ministry, Riau provincial administration and private institutions.

Although the number of affected residents is on the rise, daily cases are said to be decreasing amid Riau’s improving weather. (kes)(++++)




Thick haze still lingers, though hot spots decrease

thejakartapost.com, Jakarta | National | Sat, September 19 2015, 4:36 PM

The number of hot spots in Sumatra and Kalimantan has decreased over the last few days, yet the haze from forest and land fires remains fairly thick, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

Visibility is still low and the average air quality is unhealthy,” said BNPB head Sutopo Purwo Nugroho on Friday as quoted by Antara news agency.

The Terra and Aqua satellites on Friday detected 471 hot spots in Sumatra and 398 hot spots in Kalimantan.

In Sumatra, the hot spots were detected in Jambi (166), followed by South Sumatra (148), Riau (116), West Sumatra (25), Bengkulu (10), North Sumatra (four) and Lampung (two).

In terms of visibility, Pelalawan in Riau and Jambi encountered the lowest with 200 meters, followed by Dumai (300 meters) and Pekanbaru (500 meters), both in Riau, and Palembang in South Sumatra (1 kilometer).

In Kalimantan, the hot spots were spread around Central Kalimantan (190), South Kalimantan (133), East Kalimantan (42) and West Kalimantan (33).

The region’s lowest visibility occurred in Sanggu Buntok in Central Kalimantan (100 meters), followed by Nanga Pinoh in West Kalimantan and Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan (200 meters), Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan (300 meters), Pontianak in West Kalimantan (400 meters), Ketapang in West Kalimantan and Sampit in Central Kalimantan (500 meters), Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan (700 meters) and Muara Teweh in Central Kalimantan (1 kilometer).

BNPB also reported that the haze in Sumatra was no longer reaching the Malacca Strait or neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. However, the agency added, the smog in Kalimantan was still reaching the western part of Malaysia’s Sarawak state in northern Borneo.

Almost 80 percent of Kalimantan is blanketed by smoke,” said Sutopo.

The pollution has disrupted activities at most schools in Central Kalimantan, Riau and Jambi; all three have issued a siaga (alert) emergency level, the highest level.

Thousands of officers have been deployed to extinguish the fires. (edn/kes)(++++)




Islands in focus: City to extend school closure over haze frenzy

The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru | Archipelago | Mon, August 03 2015, 8:42 AM

The Pekanbaru Education Agency in Riau is planning to extend the temporary closure of some schools in the provincial capital to reduce negative health impacts triggered by the haze that has blanketed the city over the past several days.

On Saturday, the agency decided to shut preschools and kindergartens in a number of districts over fear that the haze, which comes from land and forest fires in regions surrounding the city, would make the children prone to respiratory illness. The agency also asked first to third graders in the districts to take a day off school on Saturday.
“It [the closure] will depend on the air condition on Sunday and Monday morning. If it is still not possible [for students to attend school], a follow-up circular [regarding school holidays] will be immediately sent to school headmasters,” agency head Zulpadil said over the weekend.
Although the agency does not specifically impose the policy on students from the fourth to 12th grades, Zulpadil said that school headmasters had been given the authority to shutdown their schools should they experience worsening haze conditions in their respective areas.




Regents, mayors told to overcome fires, haze

Rizal Harahap and Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru/Medan | Archipelago | Thu, July 30 2015, 8:47 AM

The Riau administration has instructed 12 regents and mayors across the province to immediately overcome the land and forest fires as well as anticipate the worsening haze over the past few days.

“Regents and mayors have been asked to be quick and ready and optimize the role of district and village heads to monitor, supervise and prevent the fires as early as possible as well as to overcome the haze in their respective areas,” said the provincial administration first assistant Ahmadsyah Harrofie on Wednesday.
According to him, Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman has also called the regional heads to ask for opinions from relevant agencies as well as guidance and existing regulations when determining the emergency status in their regions.
“An alert status must be determined through a coordinated meeting,” he added.
As of Wednesday, thick haze from land and forest fires was still blanketing a number of areas, such as Pekanbaru and Pelalawan regency, which led to limited visibility to reach only between 1.5 km and 2 km.
“Air quality is also categorized as unhealthy,” said Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin.
Based on satellite images gathered by the Pekanbaru BMKG on Wednesday morning, 40 hot spots were detected in seven regencies, 20 of them in Pelalawan, five in Indragiri Hulu, five in Indragiri Hilir, three each in Dumai city and Bengkalis and Siak regencies and one in Rokan Hilir.
Based on a recap conducted by the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) and relevant agencies, areas affected by fires in Riau from June 24 to July 26 had reached 1,264.75 hectares, of which 400 ha were found in Rokan Hilir, followed by Pelalawan (232 ha) and Bengkalis (177 ha). So far, only Meranti Islands regency has been reported free of fires.
“Of the affected areas, 1,125.25 ha have been extinguished,” said Riau BPBD head Edwar Sanger.
According to Edwar, the land and aerial task forces who were deployed from the land and Forest Fire Emergency Command Station at the Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase in Pekanbaru, are still making efforts to put out the fires.
“CN-295 planes have carried out 25 sorties to scatter 55.28 tons of salt to make artificial rain and a Sikorsky and a MI-171 helicopter have continued to conduct water bombing,” he said.
Separately, in North Sumatra, a number of incoming and outgoing flights at the FL Tobing Airport in Pinangsori district, Central Tapanuli regency, have been delayed due to haze from land and forest fires in Riau.
Airport manager Ambar Suryoko said on Wednesday visibility around the airport was only 2,000 meters at noon, thus endangering flights. Consequently, Ambar added, a number of flights were postponed until visibility improved.
Kualanamu BMKG data and Information Section head Mega Sirait said nearly all regions in North Sumatra, including Medan city, were covered by haze on Wednesday. She added the haze originated from land and forest fires in Riau.
Mega said in general, the haze from Riau had yet to disrupt people’s activities in the province, apart from the FL Tobing Airport and Aek Godang Airport in Padang Sidempuan city. Mega said flights at both airports were disrupted by the thick haze as they were located close to the North Sumatra-Riau border.
“Visibility at FL Tobing and Aek Godang airports were 2,000 and 4,000 meters respectively,” said Mega, adding visibility at the Kualanamu International Airport in Deli Serdang regency was very good at 8,000 meters and did not interrupt flights there.




Haze may force authorities to send students home

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru | Archipelago | Tue, July 28 2015, 8:45 AM

Thick haze caused by lingering forest and land fires in Riau province may force local authorities to send students home due to poor air quality.

Based on a report from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) Pekanbaru station, thick haze has for the last two days contaminated Pekanbaru and Dumai’s atmosphere, leading to visibility of only 2 to 3 kilometers.
“The air in Pekanbaru and Dumai is not healthy,” station head Sugarin said, adding that the haze was thickest in the morning and evening.
He blamed the haze on forest and land fires in a number of regencies and cities in Riau.
He said the Terra and Aqua satellites on Monday morning detected 25 hotspots. Of them, 12 were detected in Indragiri Hilir, seven in Indragiri Hulu, three in Bengkalis, two in Dumai and one in Pelalawan.
“Of them, 20 were fire spots with 70 percent reliability, indicating that there were already forest and land fires there,” he said.
Responding to the decrease in air quality, the Riau provincial administration distributed 2,000 face masks to people for free.
“We also instructed health agencies in regencies and cities with unhealthy air quality to mobilize all the community health centers in their respective regions to distribute masks to people,” Riau Health Agency head Andra Sjafril said.
The provincial health agency, according to Andra, also issued a warning for schools and parents to protect children from the impacts of haze.
“They are strongly recommended to wear masks while participating in teaching and learning activities,”
he said.
Andra recommended that schools send their students home should the air quality continue to decrease and endanger the health of students.
“If the situation does not get better tomorrow, students must stay home. If the conditions are the
same as today, they may go to school but must put on masks to protect them from the dangers of the haze,” he said.
According to provisional data, 1,022 people have suffered from health problems because of the haze since the beginning of July. Of them, 757 suffered from acute respiratory infection, 160 from skin irritation, 50 from eye irritation, 29 from asthma and 26 from pneumonia.
Andra said the figures had increased over the last few days as the air quality in the region worsened. Most of the sufferers live in regions with numerous hotspots such as Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir, Dumai city and Pekanbaru.
“That’s why we do not tire of reminding people to reduce outdoor activities while the haze is still there,” he said.
Separately, Pekanbaru Regent Firdaus said it was not yet time for him to issue a policy on sending students home, arguing that the haze was still at a tolerable level.
However, he acknowledged the dangers of haze and its impacts on people’s health and children’s intelligence.
“The impacts may not be directly visible but will emerge in 15 to 20 years,” he said.
He therefore called on parents to take good care of their children during the haze. “It’s no use if schools send them home but they are let outside in the haze to play.”




Islands in focus: Air quality, visibility continue to drop in Riau

The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru | Archipelago | Thu, July 02 2015, 8:53 AM

Haze from land and forest fires in Riau covering the province over the past several days has resulted in declines in air quality and visibility in a number of regions.

On Wednesday, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency’s (BMKG) Pekanbaru station, for example, detected 60 hotspots in nine regencies and municipalities across the province. Visibility in Pekanbaru, the province’s capital city, meanwhile, was recorded at only 1 kilometer, compared to Dumai’s 7 km and Pelalawan and Rengat’s 3 km.
“The drop in visibility in Pekanbaru has been followed by a decline in air quality. The Air Pollution Standard Index (PSI) board in the city shows that the current air quality is categorized as unhealthy, as the index has reached beyond 100 on the pollutant standards index [PSI],” the station’s data and information section head Slamet Riyadi said.
Declining visibility around the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru on Wednesday morning also led to the rerouting of Citilink flight QG 936 from Jakarta to Pekanbaru to Hang Nadim Airport in Batam, Riau Islands.



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