Smog from forest fires could kill indirectly: Indonesia

Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo (Antara)

Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo (Antara)

Jakarta: Smog coming from forest fires is an indirect killer and therefore it should be tackled by all concerned parties, an Indonesian official has warned.

Letting haze spread means allowing damage to the next generation, and the government, the public and the private sector must synergize to tackle and prevent forest fires, Doni Monardo, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said, Indonesian news agency ANTARA reported.

“Failure to tackle haze would make it a potential killer. Therefore, if all related parties are successful in stopping the smog, they could become heroes of humanity,” he said

Based on his monitoring in Riau, most of the forest fires were caused by man, he said, citing as an example that 80 percent of ex-forest fire areas turned into plantations in Pelelawan, Riau Province.

“We know that 80 percent of (ex-)forest fire (areas) in Pelalawan were turned into plantations. I have taken a note, I remember that the Pelalawan District Head said so,” he said, quoted by the agency.

As part of the drive to tackle the fires, the Social Affairs Ministry has prepared safe houses or shelters, especially for children and elderly, whose cities or villages, including in Riau and West Kalimantan provinces, were engulfed by haze emanating from forest fires.

“We have prepared safe houses in regions being hit by forest fires,” Harry Hikmat, the ministry’s director general for protection and social security, stated on Saturday.

According to ANTARA, the safe houses are equipped with air purifiers for fresh oxygen and folding beds. The houses are tightly sealed to prevent smog from permeating and are run by capable personnel comprising psychologists and paramedics, among others.

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