It will take three years to complete construction of canals and temporary water reserves in forests before long-term results to the haze crisis can be seen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.
Widodo told BBC on Tuesday 29 September, “We’ve been dealing with this problem for quite a few time now”. These physical works need time.
Singapore has since begun legal action against five companies it believes are among the culprits behind Indonesia’s polluting fires.
The haze forced the temporary closure of a few airports in Malaysia earlier this week, with several flights affected, while schools in three states and the federal territories were closed Monday. According to Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), more than 135,000 Indonesians were reported to be suffering from respiratory diseases in 2014.
Haze resulting from forests being burned to clear land for farming and plantations in Indonesia’s peat-rich provinces on Sumatra and Kalimantan has become an annual problem for the region over the past two decades. However, ineffective regulation coupled with grave corruption in Indonesia has led people with easy access to burning which is cheaper and faster compared to using excavators.
The Indonesian president, who is better known as Jokowi, said among the initiatives taken was to deploy 3,700 soldiers and 8,000 police personnel along with four water bombers to fight the fire.
Despite the measures, neighbours Malaysia and Singapore are furious with Indonesia over the toxic fumes.
The illegal blazes in Indonesia have sent smog floating over the region in recent weeks, causing thousands to fall ill, worsening air quality and reducing visibility in the archipelago, as well as in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.
He said this during an interview aired on BBC Indonesia, as quoted by local online news portals here yesterday.