The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed the relevant authorities to prioritize preventive measures in dealing with forest and land fires amid reports of a returning haze crisis affecting neighboring Malaysia.
"Do not underestimate the presence of hot spots. If fires break out, immediately extinguish them and do not wait until they spread," said Jokowi in the State Palace on Tuesday.
Jokowi, who was speaking during a coordination meeting on forest and land fires involving the relevant stakeholders, called on regional administrations, the Indonesian Military (TNI), National Police, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) to cooperate in tackling forest and land fires in vulnerable provinces.
The government has currently assigned emergency alert status to six out of 18 provinces prone to forest and land fires, namely Riau, South Sumatra, Jambi, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan, activating the deployment of special task forces in the respective provinces to deal with forest and land fires.
Jokowi emphasized measures such as daily hot spot and peatland ecosystem monitoring as key actions in tackling the fires.
The Terra Aqua Modis satellite detected 2,070 hot spots between January and July this year, up by 54.71 percent from 1,338 hotspots recorded over the same period last year.
Meanwhile, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite paint a different picture as the number of hot spots are down by 10.46 percent to 975 between January and July compared to 1,077 hot spots detected over the same period in 2018.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Minister Wiranto said the government would step up its coordination in hot spot detection and the deployment of first responders on the ground in provinces prone to forest and land fires.