Pursuing Corporate Forest Arsonists

Sunday, 11 OCtober 2015 , 13:45:00 WIB - Corporate News

Workers trying to put out fire on 6,000 hectares land belonging to Rimba Hutan Mas in Sungai Merang Village, South Sumatra (10/10). (ANTARA)

JAKARTA, GRES.NEWS – Following intense public pressure, the Indonesian Police are finally taking firm actions against the arsonists, not excluding plantation companies in Sumatra who let their fields burn. Five case have been handed over to the Attorney General's Office (AGO).

Chief of the Indonesian Police Badrodin Haiti said the police are investigating into both individual and corporate perpetrators. "The case files on the corporate perpetrators have been submitted to the AGO yesterday," he said, Jember, Saturday (10/10).

Badrodin refused to name the companies, but revealed that they have violated the Law on Environment Preservation and Management. If found guilty, they will also be subject to administration sanctions, which includes being placed in a blacklist or even have their land confiscated by the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment.

Said ministry itself said it is investigating into 18 companies and has sealed 26 locations. Thirty companies are under supervision.

The Minister of Forestry and the Environment, Rasio Ridho Sani, confirms that the government is taking firmer actions on land and forest arsonists.

The ministry is also cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture to educate the public to open land without burning. "We are implementing the measures in phases. Whoever is guilty, we will take firm actions," he said.

The fires are more devastating this year because of the El-Nino, the ministry said.

WEAK PUNISHMENTS – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Campaign Manager, Zenzi Suhadi, said the government has been very soft on forest and land arsonists and thus there has been no deterrent effect. Furthermore, from the 200 companies that were reported, only 10 percent were legally processed and only 0.01 percent were punished. In Riau, less than 5 percent companies are punished.

Meanwhile, in Aceh, companies who damaged the forest are fined Rp300 billion and their permit have been revoked.

Zenzi sees the haze this year was more a result of organized crime than a natural disaster. "This year, [the haze] is not normal," he said in a talk show in Jakarta, Saturday (10/10).

SUPPORT FROM APHI – The Indonesian Association of Indonesia Forest Concession Holders (APHI) supports the government's effort to take firm actions against forest arsonists as they do not only aggrieve the public. Concession holders are also aggrieved.

"We are also aggrieved. The natural resources and commodities also get burnt. We support the government's effort to arrest the irresponsible people," said Yuki Wardhana, Coordinator for Legal Affairs and Public Relations of APHI, Jakarta, Saturday (10/10).

APHI also claims that its members have been participating in the effort to put out the fire in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The association has even spent Rp150 million-Rp500 million.

"We will help try put out the fire on 5 kilometers outside our area," he said. (dtc)