Government to revoke licenses of companies found burning land

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government will revoke the licenses of plantation companies that have set fires to clear land, which has led to haze engulfing several parts of the country, a senior minister stated here on Wednesday.

"We met the president just now to discuss the haze problem and the plans to blacklist owners, boards of directors, and commissioners of companies (found burning land) and revoke their licenses," Coordinating Minister for Political, Security, and Legal Affairs Luhut Panjaitan noted after meeting the president at the State Palace.

Luhut, however, did not disclose the names of the directors, commissioners, owners, and companies whose permits would be revoked.

"I would not disclose it. It will be done by the national police chief. There are several companies, and they (police) are still identifying them. Perhaps, in the next few days, the information will be made public," he pointed out.

Luhut emphasized that the permits had been issued in the past decade to convert 4.8 million hectares of peatland into palm oil plantations.

"So, if fires occur in the allocated land, the permits of the companies managing the land will be revoked, and the land will be restored to its original function," he remarked.

Regarding the haze crisis, Luhut claimed that the government had already implemented measures, including sending three thousand soldiers to help overcome the fires and is also conducting cloud seeding operations to create artificial rain.

"It seems that some results have been achieved. But, I have said that the fires will not stop until November this year. It will be in January, next year, when the situation is expected to return to normal again according to the forecast of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG)," he noted.

He expressed hope that the haze problem would be handled in a more systematic manner next year.

"The situation now is really bad because of the El Nino phenomenon. However, next year, we hope the preparations will be more systematic," he added.

To ensure that the problem does not recur, he affirmed that the preparations to conduct aerial water bombing would be better than this year.

"We have 25 aircraft and helicopters that will be better prepared," he added.(*)