Gov’t to Take Preventive Measures to Stop Forest, Land Fires
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on his Cabinet, regional heads, the National Defense Forces (TNI), and the Indonesian National Police (Polri) regional unit leaders to constantly increase awareness of the potential for forest and land fires.
“I would like to remind all of us that although we are currently facing flooding and landslide in several areas, we must remain vigilant to the threat of forest and land fires. We expect for a comprehensive, detailed prevention plan, stronger synergy, and more effective field execution,” President Jokowi said in the National Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fire Control, at the State Palace, Jakarta, Monday (22/2).
The President also highlighted six points related to the Government’s measures to prevent and control forest and land fires. They are as follows:
First, the President instructed the relevant ranks to prioritize prevention measures. If the fire occurs, it must be extinguished immediately. “Do prioritize prevention, don’t delay because if it’s too late and we even deploy waterbombing as much as we want, from our experience, it will be hard to put out,” the President said.
The prevention measures, he added, must be coordinated and consolidated down to the ground level. “That means, if a small fire occurs in the village, it must be reported so that it can be handled immediately. Do not let the fire get bigger and we notice it too late. It will be difficult to extinguish the fire,” he said.
All related ranks must be assembled to carry out early detection, monitor fire-prone areas or hotspots by utilizing technological advances. “Do update the information every day so that conditions on the field can be monitored daily,” he added.
Second, the President urged that the monitoring and supervision infrastructure must be implemented to the lowest level. “I have visited Riau and they were doing it well. The regional police (Polda) has an application that can check up to the lowest level. We have to do things like that,” he said.
The President also ordered units at the micro-level, including the Indonesian Military’s village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa)/the Police’s security and public order officers (Bhabinkamtibmas), and village heads to be involved in efforts to prevent forest and land fires. “Provide continuous education to the public, companies, corporations, especially those who are in areas with a tendency of hotspots,” the President said.
Regarding education to the public, the President also called for religious and community leaders to help educate the public concerning the dangers of forest and land fires for health and the economic impact.
Third, the Head of State instructed relevant ranks to find permanent solutions to prevent and deal with forest and land fires in the upcoming year. The forest and land fires were mostly caused by human activity, whether intentional or unintentional due to negligence with the main motive related to economic problems, he added.
“I am aware that clearing the land by burning it is the cheapest way. We must educate the public, companies, and corporations. This must be reorganized, find a solution so that corporations and communities open their land not by burning the forest and land,” he said.
Fourth, the President urged the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) to continue the arrangement of the peatland ecosystem in the peat hydrological area.
“Do ensure the groundwater level is maintained in a high condition. Build many reservoirs, create many canals, drill wells, using various other wetting techniques so that peatlands will remain wet,” he stressed.
Fifth, the Head of State instructed regional heads and leaders of TNI-Polri units at the regional level to respond quickly if any hotspots found so that the fire will not grow bigger.
“Don’t let the fire get bigger, don’t delay until it’s hard to control. We all have to be responsive. The governors, regents/mayors must be responsive. The military commander (pangdam), military resort command (danrem), and military district command (dandim) must be responsive. The Regional Police Chief (Kapolda), Police Chief (Kapolres) must be also responsive. It’s all actually just about a quick response. If we respond, it will be a small flame,” he added.
On that occasion, the President emphasized that law enforcement measures should be taken without any compromise.
“Do implement strict law enforcement to anyone who burns forests and land, be it in corporate-owned concessions, company-owned companies, or the community, so it makes a deterrent effect. Do apply strict punishment for forest and land burners, be it administrative, civil, and criminal punishment,” the President said. (TGH/UN) (RIF/LW)