Calls for govt to declare forest fires a national disaster

Calls for govt to declare forest fires a national disaster

10 September 2015

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Indonesia– The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) has prepared Rp 385 billion (US$ 27.2 million) to fight forest fires razing sections of forest in Sumatra and Kalimantan and sending haze to surrounding areas, including neighboring Singapore.

BNPB deputy head of disaster prevention Tri Budiharto has said that most of the funding will be used to rent helicopters and Casa, CN 295 and Hercules planes to extinguish the fires from the air, which is considered the most effective technique.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives deputy speaker Agus Hermanto said that the government needed to declare the forest fires a national disaster to encourage a greater effort to extinguish the flames that were destroying forests and causing health problems.

“The forest fires should be declared a national disaster so that we can allocate special funding and make the enormous effort needed to fight the fires,” he said as quoted by

Tri Budiharto said the fire-fighting fund was announced during a meeting attended by BNPB head Willem Rampangilei at the forest fire monitoring post in Pekanbaru on Wednesday.

Tri, as quoted by, said that his institution could also consider additional funding to the financial ministry’s contribution should the agency need more money.

Head of Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) in Riau Edward Sanger said that fire-fighting efforts in the province needed funding of roughly Rp 40 billion.

According to Agus hermando, both the central government and regional governments were moving sluggishly to address the problems. “This problem should be resolved as quickly as possible. The government has not done their best,” he said.

Apart from the fires destroying forests, the haze from the fires has disrupted flights at a number of airports due to decreased visibility, forced schools to close and affected some 25.6 million local people. In many provinces, the air pollution has reached a dangerous level.

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