Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Indonesia’s Social Affairs Minister Indar Parawansa announced that the government would compensate the families of those who died from the haze that has endangered public health and chocked parts of the country in recent weeks.
Those entitled will receive death benefits in the form of a cash transfer of 15 million rupees (about US$ 1,100) upon presentation of a medical certificate indicating that the victim died from respiratory problems associated with smog or other air pollution-related diseases.
So far, Indonesian authorities have recognised 19 victims from the haze crisis in Sumatra and Kalimantan, the hardest hit areas. According to Minister Indar Parawansa, four families have already been compensated.
For weeks, the haze caused by man-made fires has upset the life of ordinary people in various parts of the country. Transportation has been disrupted and schools have been closed. In some provinces, the pollution level is ten times the acceptable limit.
According to Indonesia’s Health Ministry, at least 425,700 people have suffered respiratory problems because of the smoke.
A few days ago, the authorities launched the country’s biggest operation to combat fires with few tangible results so far.
For its part, the Transport Ministry is deploying 16 civilian ships in the rescue operation. Ministry spokesman J.A. Barata said that the government has at its disposal seven KPLP* ships (each with room for 159 people), seven ferries (100 people) and two PELNI** ships (1,000 people). KPLP ships are already in port in Dumai (Sumatra) and the Strait of Singapore.
"Crews, fuel, medical supplies and staff are ready,” Barata added. Evacuees will “be receive medical care first. Later they will be moved within the island, eventually to other, safer islands. Local authorities will be in charge of ordering the evacuation.” Passenger terminals, warehouses, and harbour facilities will be used to shelter refugees.
* KPLP: Kesatuan Penjagaan Laut Dan Pantai is Indonesia’s Coast Guard
** PELNI: Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia is the national shipping company of Indonesia.