Indonesia wary of forest fires during Asiad

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Jakarta, July 24 (IANS) Indonesian military commander Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said on Tuesday that more troops would be deployed to ensure that forest fires do not take place in South Sumatra province during next month’s Asian Games to be held in the province’s capital of Palembang.

“Now the personnel deployed by provincial military command were enough to anticipate the forest fire. If the developing situation during Asiad is considered necessary for more deployment, we would do so, depends on the needs on the field,” Hadi said during his visit to the province to inspect the handling of a current forest fire, reports Xinhua news agency.

Besides engaging troops, police and volunteers will also carry out surveillance from land and air.

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Hadi said a joint operation carried out by provincial police and military personnel would be conducted to arrest those responsible for a fire in the forest.

The joint operation, code-named Posse Operation, would mostly be applied in the regencies around Palembang of Ogan Komering Ulu and Ogan Ilir which used to record forest fires in the past years.

“The BMKG has predicted that potentiality for forest fire in the province would be intense in the next five days. We can regard it as a reminder for our anticipating moves as 99 percent of forest fire was man-made,” the military commander said in the provincial forest fire monitoring centre, referring to the prediction made by the meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency of BMKG.

As of Tuesday, some 240 hectares of land around the two regencies was affected by a forest fire, according to data released by the monitoring centre.

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Should forest fires continue to take place in those areas, it is feared that the haze from the fires could harm athletes contending in the Asiad.

Palembang and Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta will jointly host the 18th Asian Games from August 18 to September 2, with participation by over 11,000 athletes from 45 Asian countries and regions.

–IANS

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