Indonesia allocates Rp100 billion to overcome forest fires

Jumat, 28 Juni 2013 | 08:58

A total of Rp100 billion has been allocated for making rain, procuring materials and providing planes to conduct water bombing to fight forest and land fires in Riau province, a senior Indonesian minister said."The government would lease planes from Korea and Russia that are able to carry 4,000 to 5,000 liters of water for water bombing operations," Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono said after a coordination meeting to discuss the problem here on Thursday.

The meeting at the Forestry Ministry was attended by Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, Defense Forces (TNI) Commander Admiral Agus Suhartono, Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya, Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana, officials from the police force, the Attorney General Office, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the National Development Planning Board (Bappnenas), the Agency for Technology Assessment and Application (BPPT), the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan), the Ministry of Research and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture and from Jambi, South Sumatra and South Kalimantan provincial administrations.

Agung said the meeting did not only discuss fires in Riau but also anticipatory measures in eight other provinces.

On offers of assistance from Malaysia and Singapore to fight the fires the minister said that they were not yet needed as the government was still able to overcome them with support from all parties at home.

He said the government would even encourage private parties at home to participate in the efforts.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan meanwhile said 14 people were currently being questioned with regard to the fires consisting of 11 persons from plantation companies and three from local communities.

"If proven guilty they could be jailed for five years and have their permits revoked," he said.

He said the government is now still focusing on fighting the fires and is expecting support from all parties.

"We need support from all parties and all companies must protect their forests from fires," he said.

He said the handling of the fires had been taken over the central government as they have been considered a national problem.

He said BPPT has successfully made rain in Riau while water bombing has also been carried out involving six helicopters and more that will come this week to extinguish the fires. (*)