"Regions must soon declare an emergency alert status, because of the total 16 provinces (prone to forest fires), only five have imposed the status," the ministry's Deputy for Public Order and Security Coordination Insp. Gen Carlo B. Tewu remarked during a coordination meeting to evaluate and take precautionary measures against land and forest fires here on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 16 provinces prone to land and forest fires, officials of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), and Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG).
Tewu noted that President Joko Widodo had instructed regions to prevent land and forest fires at the earliest.
He noted that governors could declare an emergency alert status based on BMKG's forecast, the number of hotspots, and coverage of potential land and forest fires.
"Regional administrations that have declared (the status) can easily acquire the budget from the government. We prioritize prevention since based on BMKG's information, especially the southern part of Indonesia will experience drier weather until December," he stated.
So far, only the five provinces of Riau, West Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan have declared an emergency alert status. Riau has experience in tackling forest fires, he stated.
"We know that Riau has a well-trained task force for land and forest fires. Its governor led the task force. This is remarkable. Local governments have paid significant attention to the fight against land and forest fires," he pointed out.
Spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Agus Wibowo remarked that until July 17, land and forest fires in the country had covered 42,740.42 hectares of land in 24 provinces.