Jakarta. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has renewed its commitment to combatting forest fires, as the resulting haze could potentially derail next month's Asian Games, co-hosted by Jakarta and Palembang, South Sumatra.
Raffles Panjaitan, director for land and forest fire control at the ministry, said last week that special teams are dispatched every day to combat haze and urge people to cooperate in preventing it.
One of the 12 significant hot spots on the island assessed on Tuesday (24/07) is located in South Sumatra's Ogan Komering Ilir district, just 72 kilometers from the provincial capital, Palembang.
South Sumatra and Riau are the two provinces on the island most prone to forest fires.
The ministry said in May that air quality in Palembang was good at 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter, compared with the World Health Organization's threshold of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. The reading measures particles in the air that can cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as cancers.
The measurement in Jakarta meanwhile stands at 35 micrograms per cubic meter, though it is deemed acceptable under the law, which sets the maximum at 65 micrograms per cubic meter.
"We at the ministry are cautious over the issue, and thus we are dispatching our teams in the provinces to extinguish fires on a daily basis," ministry spokesman Djati Witjaksono Hadi told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.
The ministry also confirmed that there are around 50 fire-control stations in South Sumatra tasked with eradicating forest and land fires through various means, including water-bombing aircraft.
"Another thing is that the dry season also doesn't help," Djati said.
According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the dry season on the island is expected to continue until September. The closing ceremony of the Asian Games will take place on Sept. 2.
NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites have reported 1,183 hot spots in Indonesia since January.
"Please note that not all the hot spots are fires and not all the fires are forest fires," Djati said.