MPR urges govt to declare haze national disaster

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) Hidayat Nur Wahid has urged the government to declare the haze affecting several parts of Indonesia a national disaster.

He said such a declaration will enable professional and effective measures to kick in to address the menace.

"The losses (caused by haze disaster) have reached more than Rp3 trillion. If it is declared a national disaster, full scale efforts can be launched to deal with the situation," he said here on Thursday.

By declaring the haze a national disaster, the people will be able to perceive that the government is committed to cope with the situation, he said.

In addition, the country will be able to direct its budget towards handling this disaster by setting up a smoke emergency operations task force, among other steps, he said.

"With every passing day, (the handling of haze) has been increasingly taking a back seat. People are putting up posters. Doesnt the President see them?" he asked.

It is not late to handle the haze even at this stage since the lives of the people of Indonesia are involved, he said.

The slow handling of the haze will take its own toll and even upset neighboring countries, he said.

"It is not late (to handle the haze at this stage) rather than ignoring it. The disaster will claim lives in the long run," he said.

The haze disaster, which has lasted for more than a month, has now become a serious problem because it has taken its own toll and is threatening the lives of other people, he said.

The President must focus on resolving the haze problem by ensuring that the affected people feel a sense of security and protection, he said.(*)