KUCHING: Sarawak will start cloud seeding next week to disperse the haze that is creeping in from Kalimantan and to bring rain to the rural folk who have been putting up with a long dry spell.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said yesterday the operation would first start over the water catchment area at Sungai Sarawak Kiri in Bau.
The catchment supplies water to the Kuching district.
He said a Labuan-based RMAF C-130 Hercules plane would be used for the operation.
"It would be done as soon as a plane becomes available," Dr Chan, who is also the chairman of the state's disaster and relief management committee, said.
Dozens of rural settlements in the state are reported to be facing a drought.
Some government agencies had been directed to mount the laborious task of trucking water in Public Works Department tankers to the longhouses and villages in the affected areas and in boats to settlements that had no access roads.
With the haze expected to hit Kuching and the other major urban centre next month if the current dry spell persists, Dr Chan said the prohibition on open burning was again back in force and warned anyone, particularly plantation companies, to observe the ban.
In his hometown of Miri, which had been covered by haze since last month, he said the Drainage and Irrigation Department would raise the water level in the peat areas of Baram and Tudan to douse the peat fire still smoldering underground.
At the same time, Dr Chan said the Miri Fire Department would deploy officers to areas where maize farmers are known to resort to open burning to clear state land.