Riau Police Ends Forest Fire Investigation

Wednesday, 03 August 2016 , 15:40:00 WIB - Law

Pekanbaru police officers are seen looking for evidence that the major forest fire in Riau was intentional, Riau, Tuesday (19/7). (ANTARA)

JAKARTA, GRES.NEWS – The Police of Riau Province has made a surprising decision by ending its investigation on 15 plantation companies who were allegedly behind the forest fire in Riau. The House of Regional Representatives’ Commission III responded by planning to form a Special Committee to investigate the decision.

A member of the commission, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Nasir Djamil said he was taken aback by the decision and the commission has met and inquired the Chief of the Riau Police about the decision on Tuesday (2/8).

The decision is surprising to everyone as the smog disrupted daily and economic activities in the region. Based on data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) in 2015, the disaster caused Rp20 trillion material loss and the government had to spend Rp500 billion (US$ 38,095,250) for countermeasure actions. The fire was not a national disaster. It was an international disaster.

"The public is also questioning the Riau Police’s decision. The impact of the smog spread overseas. The public sees that the Riau Police chief has failed to understand [the scale of the issue-red], Nasir said, in dpr.go.id.

Another Commission III member Masinton Pasaribu added that the issue will be discussed in the next work meeting with the National Police.

Meanwhile, the 15 companies are PT Bina Duta Laksamana, PT Perawang Sukses Perkasa Indonesia, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, PT Suntara Gajah Pati, PT Dexter Perkasa Industri, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Sumatera Riang Lestari PT Bukit Raya Pelalawan, PT Hutani Sola Lestari, KUD Bina Jaya Langgam , PT Rimba Lazuardi dan PT PAN United PT Parawira, PT Alam Sari Lestari and PT Riau Jaya Utama.

Non-governmental organizations also criticize the decision. Coordinator of Jikalahari, an environmental organization, Woro Supartinah demands the National Police Chief, Tito Karnavian, to evaluate the Police of Riau Province, which is being led by brig. gen. Suprianto, as the decision clashes with President Joko Widodo’s instruction to investigate the disaster, especially the fire took victims.

Up to 19 people were killed and 529,527 suffered Upper respiratory tract infections (URI).

President Joko Widodo is also surprised and has instructed Tito to reconsider the decision.

Chief of Criminal Investigations, National Police, Insp. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto said there are three reasons the investigation has been closed. First, the location of the fire did not occur on land that belonged to the companies. Second, the land is under dispute between claimants and the land does not belong to a company. Third, the suspected companies had attempted to put out the fire.

Ari added that there is no evidence that the fire was started intentionally or due to negligence. Nonetheless, although the decision met the existing procedures, the National Police has promised to look into the decision.