What will happen to Indonesia with Fires during Pandemic?
Every year, during the country’s annual fire seasons, Indonesian facing toxic smoke. This year, as Indonesia has the highest case of Covid-19 becomes a more chaotic circumstance and threatens thousands of lives there.
Within 1.65 million hectares of peatland that burning out around Sumatera and Kalimantan forested islands and caused Indonesian to suffer from toxic smoke. Experts said that this year Indonesia would have fewer fire seasons than last year but for now, there are more than 700 fires have found in Central Kalimantan and taking the risk on the palm-oil industry since it is the third-largest province that has palm-oil rich and in contrast, it will give the prosperity sustainable land management in Indonesia.
During the pandemic of this year, it has higher risk rather than last year especially Omnibus Law which Jakarta trying to reduce disasters that also related to Covid-19 and Indonesia’s fire case.
Firstly, in Indonesia, the Covid-19 patients mostly surviving from chronic lung conditions like asthma and now worsened by fires in forests and peatlands particularly when the pollution reaches PM2.5 at a dangerous level.
In addition, the Indonesian Pediatrician Association stated that fire-prone in Indonesia particularly in Sumatera and Kalimantan have the poorest health children and linked with Indonesia as the world’s highest child Covid-19 death rates. click here
Jokowi, as the President of Indonesia, to reducing the risk of fires in forest and peatland admitted that there are ongoing mitigations efforts such as ground patrols, inspections, and community engagement with farmers and oil-palm growers. Unfortunately, their efforts are having some problems due to the logistical and budgetary during a pandemic.
Moreover, things that exacerbate unsafe land clearing and the possibility of fires due to vital deficits are mainly with the economic implications that drive some rural communities to seek new sources of income, with forest loss increasing by 50% in the first 20 weeks of 2020 compared to the period under same in 2019 due to higher rates of illegal logging and land clearing.
“Highlighting forest and peatland fires is in Jokowi's greatest political interest, not only in terms of environmental and health risks but also in terms of the burden it brings on connections with Malaysia and Singapore.”
Jokowi's government has failed to maintain the palm oil sector responsible for its tremendous responsibilities over the years for creating fires, with the industry behaving with total impunity; Jokowi got heavily criticized for mitigating these disasters.
Regardless of the forest fires that threaten millions of lives, in October, Indonesia runs into new problems about the controversial Omnibus Law through the Indonesian Parliament. Such spread of amendments to 73 regulations, drawn up instantly and without hesitation in the lack of public discussion and professional guidance, involves a substantial reduction in environmental protection. This will led Indonesia to lower international standards in state management.
The bill undermines the effect on environmental violations, divesting the palm oil and pulp industries for their previous damages to Indonesian peatlands. Particularly, with the regulations on environmental preservation and spatial planning weakened, fewer companies would have to undertake an environmental risk assessment and less authorization should be allowed, leading to illegal logging, mining, and planting activities.
Jokowi's administration's vision for this Omnibus Law raises the issue of how highly Indonesian forests and peatland fires are perceived to be cultural, health policy, and foreign affairs problems. This direct conflict with the government's 'Green Growth' policy driven by the Ministry of National Development Planning, is especially striking. The Green Growth Standards, which are meant to merge sustainable growth with environmental issues and minimizing risk, no longer exist also with Omnibus Law, are quite a law aimed to generate jobs and help Indonesia's economic expansion after the pandemic.
At the same time as the Indonesian Omnibus Law was implemented in mid-October, a necessary levels agreement has been reached. The Landscape Partnership for Asia was established by land and forestry associations around Asia in an order to reinforce and organize action to preserve forests and other environmental resources in the country especially towards effects of climate change such as heatwaves and fires. Although the Landscape Partnership represents prudent confidence in the future of forestry in Asia-Pacific, Indonesia is largely dominated by the implementation of the Omnibus Law and its long-term consequences.
The crisis preparedness difficulties that have been triggered during the pandemic this year the enforcement of other legislation to help control land clearance and drying in forests and peatland areas is an essential part of preventing increasing cultural, health, and political crisis. Keeping the palm oil industry responsible and giving real priority to the public health of millions of people around Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore must take priority in decision-making and strategy.
There are a lot of risks in weakening this by the sweeping policy instruments of the Omnibus Law.
Can the Indonesian government handle this? Let’s see what will happen in the future.
Source : https://southeastasiaglobe.com/fires-and-covid-19-a-disaster-duo-in-indonesia/