Walhi to assist haze victims in taking legal action

Walhi to assist haze victims in taking legal action

Officers from Mangala Agni extinguish the fire that burned the rest of the oil palm plantation in Sungai Aur, Muaro, Saturday (September 12, 2015). (ANTARA/Wahyu Putro A.)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) has opened command posts for suing plantation companies responsible for forest fires that have caused widespread haze in a number of provinces.

In a press statement on Monday, the NGO urged the public to actively fight for their rights for a good and healthy environment, which is free from haze, and their rights for living healthily, as well as the rights of the future generations.

Walhi also called on people living in haze-free regions to show their solidarity to those impacted by the haze, and support the move to sue the authorities.

Most of the hotspots are located inside plantation areas; both oil palm and industrial forestry areas (HTI), as well as mining companies. Walhi pointed out.

Companies must be held accountable for their bad practices, the NGO said.

It also criticized the government for its reactionary response to tackling forest fires and for not addressing the root of the problems that are causing the haze.

The government should review or even revoke the business licenses of companies operating in places where hotspots are found frequently, whether it is their plantation or mining areas, it noted.

The governments negligence and the companies corporate crimes have claimed many victims, particularly children, who have fallen ill due to the haze. Their future is being threatened because they are exposed to the haze, the NGO added.

Walhi said it will provide assistance to individuals wanting to file law suits because the countrys Constitution has clearly stated the right of every citizen to live in a healthy and clean environment.

The command posts will also entertain complaints made by victims of forest fires.

The NGO has set up the posts in haze-prone provinces, such as Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, South Sumatra, Riau and Jambi.
(T.M040/Uu.F001/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

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