The Asian Games will be held in the capital city Jakarta and South Sumatra`s provincial capital Palembang from Aug 18 to Sept 2. Therefore, many of the efforts to fight haze are being made in South Sumatra.
The provincial government of South Sumatra continues to maximize the efforts to prevent forest and land fires by preventing the occurrence of hotspots, especially in flammable areas, ahead of the 2018 Asian Games.
Head of South Sumatra`s Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Iriansyah, stated in Palembang on Friday that it regularly monitors the possibility of the emergence of hotspots by maximizing patrols in the hope that the Asian Games would not be disrupted.
Land and air patrols continue to be maximized, so that hotspots would not occur, he noted.
He added that that if hotspots arise, especially in the peatlands, it would be difficult to prevent fires.
Moreover, if the peatlands are burnt, it would be difficult to extinguish fires. Hence, prevention must be maximized, he remarked.
In this regard, the disaster management agency continues to monitoring the development of hotspots, so that haze, similar to that in 2015, would not happen.
Moreover, participants from various countries must experience a pollution-free atmosphere, he explained.
He added that the impact of haze not only disrupts health but also tarnishes the image of the nation.
In addition to monitoring the hotspots, it also regularly carries out weather modification, such as modifying the weather by dispersing salt into the air to induce rain, he elaborated.
Therefore, more efforts continue to be made to prevent forest and land fires during the 2018 Asian Games.
The BPBD is conducting weather modification by dispersing one ton of salt over the clouds every day to prevent forest and field fires. The efforts have been made since mid-May. The agency has continued to disperse one ton of salt on an average.
Salt is dispersed over the clouds to create potential rain clouds that are more effective, he stated. This step is part of the precautionary measures against forest and land fires.
Iriansyah could not specify the exact quantity of salt used for conducting cloud seeding, although it is about a ton per operation. Dispersing salt is, at times, conducted twice a day, so that the amount cannot be calculated in detail.
Indeed, the agency is currently maximizing the efforts to prevent forest, garden, and land fires since South Sumatra will receive thousands of guests, who will attend the international sporting event, in August.
Moreover, the Governor of South Sumatra, Alex Noerdin, revealed that there was no smoke haze similar to 2015. Therefore, fire must be prevented early.
Besides that, water-bombing helicopters have also been deployed. Two additional water-bombing helicopters have been sent to Palembang, South Sumatra Province, for anticipating wildfires during the 18th Asian Games. The two units of water-bombing helicopters are now being assembled in Palembang City.
The helicopters, with a capacity of 600 liters and 500 liters, respectively, will be operated to extinguish the wildfires and to conduct patrols in the fire-prone areas in South Sumatra.
These two units of water-bombing helicopters are part of the 10 additional units that will be used during the Asian Games. Besides the two units, four other helicopters have completely been assembled to be ready for operation. The choppers will play a critical role in putting out fires in isolated areas, mainly in peatlands and forests.
According to Iriansyah, his office is committed to preventing the wildfires and hazes from occurring, in accordance with the instruction from Noerdin.
Additionally, the Ogan Komering Ulu district fire department of South Sumatra has readied 10 fire trucks ahead of the Asian Games to fight any forest fires or other blazes that may break out.
"The step was taken as we are entering the dry season, which may trigger forest and land fires," the chief of the fire department, Himda Faruzal, remarked.
Six of the fire trucks would be deployed in sub-districts that have a fire fighting command post, namely Kecamatan Ulu Ogan, Pengandonan, Peninjauan, Lubuk Raja, Semidang Aji, and Lengkiti. "The other four fire trucks would be deployed in a command post in Baturaja city," he noted.
To support the fire trucks, the fire department had also prepared four tank cars and 12 floating machines and stationed 21 fire fighters in each of the command posts. "The officers will work in three shifts, and each shift will have two drivers," he pointed out.