29 October 2015
Indonesia’s weather agency failed to predict that the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon this year would be worse than in 1997, a senior minister said yesterday, as the government struggles to contain forest fires that have created a haze blanketing much of South-east Asia in recent months.
“I must admit there was a mistake in the BMKG (state weather agency) forecast that didn’t predict El Nino this year would be worse than 1997,” said Mr Luhut Panjaitan, the Coordinating Security Minister tasked by President Joko Widodo with overseeing the government’s response to the crisis. “Our forecast was wrong.”
Often deliberately set by plantation companies and smallholders to clear land cheaply and quickly, the fires have been burning for weeks in the forests and carbon-rich peatlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan islands as the El Nino effects have exacerbated the dry season, making it harder to extinguish the fires. Recently, the fires have spread to far-flung places.
Mr Luhut yesterday said he has instructed government agencies to focus on cloud-seeding operations for the next four days, The Jakarta Post said. The national disaster management agency said it expected the fires to be completely extinguished by the end of next month or early December.
… An annual event, the haze crisis is particularly severe this year, even after Indonesia last year ratified an ASEAN regional agreement committing it to act to reduce the smoke haze caused by the land fires, as the law has yet to be enacted locally in its districts, said Dr Jonatan Anderias Lassa, a research fellow at the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“They need to bring down that law into local legislative processes,” Dr Lassa told reporters on Monday, adding that a division of resources between central and local governments was also required and it might take up to 10 years to complete the whole implementation cycle. When contacted by TODAY late on Tuesday, Dr Lassa explained that in order to fully implement the regional agreement, the first step was for Mr Widodo’s administration to issue a presidential decree laying out what should be done at the national level, followed by tasking the relevant ministries to work out the implementation details, including the technical guidelines.
NTS Centre / Online / Print
Last updated on 13/11/2015