Jakarta. Five provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan are bracing up to face peat land and forest fires as the dry season comes close to its peak in September.
The governors of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan have already raised forest fire emergency alert for their provinces. South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and North Sumatera — also vulnerable to forest fires — have not raised the alert.
"The national disaster management agency (BNPB) will provide assistance to their regional counterparts to handle the forest fires," said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a statement on Friday (12/08).
According to Sutopo, BNPB has already deployed eight water-bombing helicopters, two water-bombing aircraft and two cloud-seeding aircraft in Riau, South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan.
In areas where emergency has been declared, the armed forces, the police, local and national disaster mitigation agencies, the Manggala Agni Forest Fire Brigade and volunteer firefighters will be deployed.
The BNPB will also have on standby 16 water-bombing and patrol helicopters, two water-bombing aircraft and eight cloud-seeding aircraft.
Last year's seasonal fires – which observers described as the worst on record – destroyed vegetation on millions of hectares of peat land, afflicted more than half a million people with respiratory problems and resulted in billions of dollars in economic losses.
The same tragedy may happen again this year if there is no coordination between palm oil companies, local governments, security officers and government agencies to work out a way to minimize the fires.