Vietnam — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked ministries, branches and localities to take drastic measures to prevent forest fires and their endangering of forest resources and the natural environment.
His dispatch to ministries, branches and localities in March said the prolonged dry spell had affected many localities, especially in the Central Highlands, northern mountainous, central, and Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta regions, resulting in major fires in several areas.
Dung asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Central Steering Committee for Forest Protection, Fire Prevention and Control to take responsibility for arranging fire watches to spot blazes and extinguish them promptly to prevent their expansion into primeval forests and nature reserves.
The National Committee for Search and Rescue and the Ministry of Defence were asked to provide more forces to help the northern mountainous province of Son La to extinguish fires at the Ta Sua wildlife reserve and in areas bordering Son La and Yen Bai provinces.
The steering committee will co-operate with the defence ministry to provide emergency care and rescue services and to ensure communication links for fire-fighters in Son La and Lai Chau provinces as well as other large-scale fire areas.
Local authorities at all levels will take responsibility in helping raise people’s awareness on forest protection and fire prevention and control and ask them not to practise slash-and-burn farming during the dry season, which is said to be the main reason for the forest fires.
Meanwhile, the Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group under the Ministry of Information and Communications has been asked to ensure communications for the implementation of fire prevention and control in Son La, Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces.
The same day, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai met the steering committee to discuss measures to cope with forest fires in localities throughout the country.
According to the committee, fire danger warnings are at Level 5, the highest level, in 19 provinces and cities. It is at Level 4 for 23 other localities.
Since early this month, 59 forest fires have been reported in 13 provinces and cities across the country. Big fire forests have broken out in the northern mountainous provinces of Cao Bang, Son La and Yen Bai.
Hai asked the committee and local authorities to supervise forest fire prevention and control measures and report regularly to the Government.
He said the main cause of forest fires was slash-and-burn farming. It was imperative to raise public awareness of fire prevention and to instruct local forestry officials to keep a close watch on fire-prone forests and sniff out blazes before they spread, Hai warned.