House Demands Haze Declared as National Disaster

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  • ANTARA/Rosa Panggabean

    ANTARA/Rosa Panggabean

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta-Deputy Speaker of the House Agus Hermanto urged the government to declare the haze disaster in Sumatra and Kalimantan as a national disaster. He said, the government does not seem serious in handling the recurring problem.

    “By declaring it a national disaster, it can be handled nationally," he stated in the Parliament Complex, Senayan, Monday, October 5.

    According to Agus, that the government’s downplaying the problem is seen when some officials trying to gain popularity in the media rather than work.

    The Democratic Party politician believed that by declaring it a national disaster the government need not be ashamed to ask assistance from neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore. “The neighbors just want to help. Do not be shy to coordinate," he said.

    According to data from the Bureau of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG), based on Terra and Aqua satellites observations, there are 254 hotspots in Sumatra. According to the Head of BMKG station Pekanbaru, Sugarin, South Sumatra is the highest contributing area with 178 points, followed by Lampung 26 points, 24 points in Bengkulu and Jambi 18 points. The haze also spread to neighboring countries, Singapore and Malaysia.

    Responding to the pressure, the government is determined to target the problem of haze to be completed this month. Cabinet Secretary Pramono Agung said land fire fighting can be quickly completed in October because of the rainy season.

    “For the fire fighting to be effective, President Joko Widodo instructed the fire fight to not stop during the rainy season," said Pramono at Palace Complex, on Monday.

    According to information obtained, said Pramono, the number of fires decreased although the smoke still continue to exist, for example in Riau and Jambi. The President also asked the local government to prepare canals with dikes, especially in peat, so the peatland becomes continually wet.

    About the help from Singapore, Pramono said that Indonesia is considering it. According to him, the consideration to received help from Singapore is the empathy factor to the neighboring countries.

    According to him, the issue of haze is now not only an issue in Indonesia. "The human factor is not our problem alone. Neighbors are affected and we also need to empathize," he said.