The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has completed a plan to deal with the forest and ground fires that break out during the dry season, an officials said on Friday.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who heads the data, information and public relation center of the agency known as the BNPB, said the plan included the seeding of artificial rain clouds by the research and applied technology agency BPPT under the command of the BNPB.
“The plan is for artificial rains to start on August 12 for 40 days, using two Cassa-212 airplanes based at two coordination posts, one in Pekanbaru and the other in Palangkaraya [Central Kalimantan],” he said.
In addition, two helicopters equipped with bambi-buckets for water dropping will also be mobilized to fight forest fires from the air in the Riau province, one of the primary regions in Indonesia affected by forest fires.
Riau is scheduled this September to host the National Games (PON).
“If the conditions there turn extreme, BNPB has also prepared a plan to add three more helicopters and two airplanes for rain making,” he said.
He said that Rp 12 billion ($1.3 million) from the BNPB’s funds had been earmarked for the first option, while the second option could cost Rp 30 billion. “BNPB is preparing these precautions even though the dry season is normal” Sutopo said.
The Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has predicted that the El Nino southern oscillation could rise during the June to December period.
Sutopo said that the focus of anti-fire operations would be in North Sumatra Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.
Indonesia is annually beset by forest and ground fires which officials mostly blame on outlawed slash-and-burn agriculture, as well as land clearing by fire by farmers or plantation companies