Indonesian air force to seed clouds in parts of Kalimantan


It will clear Sarawak and neighbour’s air.

THE Indonesian air force is to launch cloud-seeding operations in west and central Kalimantan this weekend in a move to clear the haze affecting Sarawak, a senior environment ministry official said yesterday.

Mr Yon Artiono Arbai, head of the Environmental Impact Management Agency’s haze control unit, said operations would start once the government approves the plan being drawn up in consultation with Singapore and Malaysia.

“It is part of our efforts to help neighbouring countries get rid of the haze,” he said.

“Seeding clouds over central and west Kalimantan will definitely help clear the pollution in these places as well as in Sarawak.”

The forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan have enveloped much of the region in haze for almost two months.

Mr Yon said the Indonesian air force would deploy its Hercules aircraft and offload more than 800 kg of salt a day. Salt is a necessary ingredient in cloud-seeding operations.

He declined to say how long the exercise would last. The cloud-seeding operation over Sumatra island – which started last Wednesday – was scheduled to last 30 days.

He noted that the operations in Sumatra to date, mainly over the Riau province, had yielded positive results. The air force had been carrying out four sorties a day.

It had induced artificial rain and visibility had improved, he said, adding that the visibility range in Riau’s capital of Pekanbaru had increased from 100 metres before the operation to 500 metres now.

“We are happy with the results so far. Air has become clearer now and flight cancellations at the airport are much less now. Planes can now land without any difficulty,” he said.

The Simpang Tiga airport in Pekanbaru had been badly affected by the haze resulting in numerous cancellations.

Thick smoke and haze have disrupted air traffic in other parts as well. The airports at Palangkaraya in Kalimantan and Jambi in Sumatra have been closed because of the haze.

Bernama reports: Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Thursday in Bangkok that Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh offered to make Thai air force aircraft available to transport water to help put out haze-causing forest fires in Indonesia.

Datuk Anwar, who is in Bangkok for a meeting of Asian and European finance ministers, also said that he had discussed the haze problem unofficially with the finance ministers of Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, and they all offered their cooperation in overcoming the haze.

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