"We have to take precautionary measures against land and forest fires," the minister remarked here on Thursday.
President Joko Widodo has issued Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 3 of 2020 on prevention, enforcement of law against land and forest fires, and on-field handling.
As stipulated in the Inpres, land and forest fire handling efforts would be undertaken under the directions and management of the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.
Mahfud cautioned that the nation must not disregard the potential of forest fires while focusing on the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We agree that this calls for seriously handling both issues. We should not ignore the potential of forest fires and only focus on the COVID-19 pandemic," he emphasized.
Land and forest fires in Indonesia had been under the global spotlight since 2015, including criticism from Singapore.
"Protests arose from Indonesian civil society and international society. Singapore had issued an anti-haze law in 2015 as a mark of protest against Indonesia's failure to handle the fires," he noted.
Since early 2016, the president always led meetings on tackling the issue of forest fires, he pointed out.
On June 23, Mahfud MD affirmed that Indonesia had efficaciously reduced the number of forest fires, with no major fires reported in the nation in the past few years.
The government has readied some integrated measures to prevent land and forest fires, the minister stated.
Mahfud MD reiterated that some measures had been readied as a precautionary step against forest fires this year.
In 2019, forest fires had ravaged almost 16 thousand square kilometers of land, mostly on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
In 2015, the fires blazed through 26 thousand kilometers of land, thereby resulting in one of the worst haze episodes in the country’s history.
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