INDONESIA - Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru
In anticipation of drought this year, the Riau provincial administration has prepared a forest fire emergency team comprising thousands of personnel from the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Environment and Forestry Ministry team Manggala Agni, civilian volunteers and firefighting teams from private companies.
Riau Governor Arsyadjuliandi Andi Rachman said during an outdoor ceremony attended by all personnel at his office that the event was held to serve as a reminder to all public and private companies in Riau to stop slash-and-burn activities when opening a new field. All personnel on this team are united in their effort to enforce the law on field burners, he said. Remember, Im serious, dont ever burn fields.
He said the concerted effort to prevent forest fires had begun last year. Andi said forest fires had begun in 1997 in Riau and reappeared, but were curbed last year. Fewer hot spots were detected in 2016, with only 17 percent of the figure in 2015.
We are determined to maintain the success this year. Thats why I declared an emergency forest fire status from Jan. 24 to April, he went on.
The forestry ministrys director of forest fire mitigation, Raffles Brotestes Panjaitan, said Friday his office had deployed 400 Manggala Agni personnel to Riau. Our ministry also provides 217 trail motorbikes, portable pumps, hoses, fireproof suits and two operational vehicles for the TNI to support the forest fire mitigation, he said. (evi)