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  PlanetArk 28 Aug 06
Indonesia to Drop Water Bombs to Douse Forest Fires

Antara 26 Aug 06
Cloud seeding, water bombs to put out forest fires

Yahoo News 25 Aug 06
Indonesia to deploy cloud-seeding planes to fight haze

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia has said it would deploy two military planes to fight forest fires creating a choking haze in the main islands of Sumatra and Borneo near Malaysia.

The planned deployment of the C-130 planes, equipped with cloud-seeding devices, were a "short-term measure" to fight forest fires in the Indonesian section of Borneo and in the provinces of South Sumatra, Jambi and Riau, said Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie on Friday.

"Although it does not 100 percent solve the problem, it can reduce the impact of the disaster," Bakrie was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying.

The government would allocate up to two billion rupiah (219,178 dollars) for the project, Bakrie said, adding that the planes would also drop water bombs on burning forests and lands.

Haze continued Friday to smother parts of Riau's provincial capital of Pekanbaru and disrupted three flights from landing at the city's international airport, said airport chief Alexius Kismoyo. Visibility in the vicinity of the airport dropped to 500 meters (1,650 feet) early Friday but improved to one kilometer by 10OO GMT, allowing other flights to depart or land, Kismoyo told AFP.

"The smoke is still visible and it stings the eyes and nose," he said.

Burning in Indonesia and some parts of Malaysia to clear land for crops causes an annual haze that afflicts Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as well as Indonesia itself.

Malaysia's Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz on Thursday urged Indonesia to crack down on forest fires and warned that the choking pollution was hurting economies and deterring tourists. Singapore and Thailand have been affected in recent years along with Malaysia.

"We have to contend that this is something that will happen unless real serious efforts are being put by the governments where the haze originates," Aziz said.

Malaysia's worst-affected region so far this year has been in Sarawak where Kuching had an unhealthily high reading of 157 last week.

The Indonesian government has outlawed land clearing by fire but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

PlanetArk 28 Aug 06
Indonesia to Drop Water Bombs to Douse Forest Fires

INDONESIA: August 28, 2006 JAKARTA - Indonesia will drop water bombs and try to induce rain via cloud seeding next week in a bid to douse forest fires blanketing parts of Southeast Asia with choking smoke, officials said on Friday.

Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie said water bombs, each containing between 1,000 and 3,000 litres, would be dropped from military cargo planes in fire-ravaged areas on Sumatra and Borneo islands.

"Artificial rain can't 100 percent extinguish hot spots but it can minimise the number," Bakrie added.

The government would also handout leaflets reminding locals about the danger of clearing land using fires.

Bakrie said seven plantation companies were being investigated on suspicions they had used slash-and-burn methods to clear land. It is illegal to carry out slash-and-burn land clearing in Indonesia, but prosecutions take time and few have stuck.

Bakrie told reporters Malaysia and Thailand had offered to help fight the fires. Technology Minister Kusmayanto Kadiman, who was also at the news conference, said the operations would start on Monday. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered officials to step up efforts to tackle the problem, his spokesman said. "We regret the fact that the haze has caused inconvenience to our neighbours. We have made a commitment that there should be no more haze this year," Dino Patti Djalal said.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that the fires would disappear in two years. His target is more optimistic than some other officials, who see the seasonal fires going on for years.

Antara 26 Aug 06
Cloud seeding, water bombs to put out forest fires

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has instructed Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie in his capacity as chairman of the refugee and disaster mitigation coordinating board (Bakornas PBP), to put out forest fires by conducting cloud seeding and dropping water bombs.

"The President has said that the haze from forest fires was very disturbing. Therefore, he asked the PBP Bakornas chief to put out as many hot spots as possible," Communication and Informatics Minister Sofyan Djalil told the press at the Presidential Office here on Friday following a cabinet meeting. The meeting was attended among others by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Boediono, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo AS, Minister Aburizal Bakrie, and Riau Islands Governor Ismeth Abdullah.

President Yudhoyono also instructed legal sanction to plantation owners who used fires to clear forest areas for plantations. "Those who set forests on fire, mostly big plantation companies, must get legal sanction," Sofyan Djalil said quoting the Head of State.

In addition to forest fires, the cabinet meeting also discussed other issues such as the planned development of multi-storey apartments in Jakarta, the upcoming international conference on infrastructure in Jakarta next November, fuel energy saving and gas exploration in Natuna.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie said earlier that the government had set aside Rp1 billion to Rp2 billion to finance the cloud seeding.

In addition, he said it was also trying to contain forest fires using water bombs. "Hercules planes will airdrop plastic water tanks to the scene of forest fires," he said. Each of the planes would carry about 8,000 liters of water to be dropped over the scene of forest fires, State Minister of Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman said.

Forest fires have been raging in the Indonesian provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan since the past few weeks.

The government was also pursuing long-term measures to prevent forest fires, he said. "The people who clear land for plantation without burning forest will be given seeds, fertilizers and counseling by the Agriculture Ministry," he said.

Smoke from forest fires raging on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan worsened this week, casting a pall over neighboring Malaysia. (*)

Related articles on Singapore: Haze
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