The Jakarta Post
The government is determined to carry out all necessary measures to prevent forest and land fires from spreading on the island of Sumatra, as the Asia Games are set to kick off on Aug. 18 in Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra, at the peak of the dry season.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto held a meeting on Tuesday with relevant officials, discussing anticipatory measures to address the potential increase in hot spots.
"Learning from our experience [...] and with solid coordination [among stakeholders] as well as proper procedures in both prevention and mitigation, all regions are prepared to mitigate potential forest fires," Wiranto said on Tuesday.
"We need to work hard to ensure that South Sumatra will be haze-free. Weather forecasts say that the peak of the dry season will happen during the Asian Games," he added.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) detected 169 hot spots in Sumatra Island on Tuesday with 47 hot spots in South Sumatra alone. Riau recorded an increase in hot spots to 90 from 65 in the previous day while there were 11 hot spots in Jambi and 55 hot spots in Bangka Belitung province.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry's director general of climate change, Ruandha Agung Sugadirman, said a coordinated team comprising relevant officials, including police and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel, routinely carried out patrols in areas prone to forest fires.
Sixteen helicopters have been on standby across South Sumatra and can be deployed for water bombing at any time when forest fires are detected. Another 10 helicopters are also on standby in Riau, Ruandha said.
The government has also used 51 tons of salt to intensify cloud-seeding operations to help stimulate rainfall since May, he said, adding that rain had fallen in the province from Monday evening to Tuesday morning.
"As long as the land and peatlands are wet, fires will not occur," Ruandha said. (rin)