Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The House of Representatives should set up a special committee on the issue of haze that has been impacting several provinces across Kalimantan and Sumatra.

"A blanket of thick smoke now covers the constituency of Jambi. The haze has disrupted flights and schools in the region," Sutan Adil Hendra, a member of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party faction, said here on Tuesday.

According to him, the haze problem has not been addressed comprehensively by the government.

The Vice Chairman of Gerindras Board of Trustees said firm legal action should be taken against parties found responsible for these fires.

He also said that the personnel deployed to extinguish forest and land fires were not equipped with sufficient equipment.

"The government must declare forest fires as a national disaster and the House of Representatives should establish a special committee on the problem of haze," he said.

By declaring haze as a national disaster, all stakeholders and community would be able to work jointly to tackle forest and land fires in Indonesia.

"In addition, the budget can be disbursed easily," he said.

He proposed that such a special committee can comprise members from Commission IV, Commission II, Commission I and Commission X.

Earlier, House Speaker Setya Novanto had proposed that Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan be assigned the role of a coordinator in the efforts to fight forest and plantation fires.

"I have conveyed this proposal to the president, urging him to name a coordinator to tackle the haze problem. The right person (for the purpose) is, indeed, Mr Luhut. But we leave the decision to the president," Novanto noted here Tuesday.

He said the government should be serious in dealing with forest fires that have claimed lives, affected a large number of people and inflicted material losses.

Just spraying water would not solve the problem, he emphasized, adding that heavy rains would be immensely beneficial.

"Indeed, there have been some ideas, including, for instance, the one from Mr Prabowo (chairman of Gerindra Party) who suggested that the haze problem should be declared a national disaster," he said.

In the meantime, the problems posed by land fires in Indonesia and the resultant haze, that has also affected neighboring countries, are expected to end soon as teams from foreign countries commenced fire extinguishing operations on Monday.

The fires and haze have affected public health and disturbed daily activities in Indonesia and the neighboring countries.

Teams from Singapore and Malaysia joined the local forest and land fire prevention task force to commence fire extinguishing operations on Monday, focusing on the hotspots in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) district in South Sumatra.

"Teams from Singapore and Malaysia along with South Sumatras Forest and Land Fires Prevention Task Force have begun aerial and land operations to extinguish the fires in OKI and Musi Banyuasin District," South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin stated on Monday (Oct. 12).(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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