Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) and Jaringan Kerja Penyelamat Hutan Riau (Jikalahari) said almost every year fires hit land owned by plantation and forestry companies in the province.
Police have granted SP3 over last years forest fire cases of 15 companies and now fires have been detected again in lands owned by eight of the companies, deputy coordinator of Jikalahari Made Ali said here on Tuesday.
The eight companies are PT Dexter Perkasa Industri Indonesia, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Bina Duta Laksana, PT Perawang Sukses Perkasa Industri, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, PT Huta Sola Lestari, PT Suntara Gajah Pati and PT Sumatera Riang Lestari.
Walhi executive director Riko Kurniawan said the police decision in granting SP3 was a big mistake, as proven by the repeat of wrong doing committed by the companies.
The companies dared to use fires for land clearing as they have always escaped the law, observers said.
Police said a number of individuals have been named suspects but none of the companies are named suspect.
"Yes, it was true. We have named 85 individual suspects. No corporation is among the suspects yet," Riau police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tejo said.
Earlier deputy chairman of the commission III of the House of Representatives Benny K Harman strongly demanded state police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to give explanation of the SP3 issued by Riau police chief Brig.Gen. Supriyanto.
"The state police chief has to openly give reasons for SP3," Benny said in Jakarta.
He also asked President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to summon the state police chief to explain the decision as the cases have national and international dimensions.
However, after a meeting later with the the Riau police chief Benny said the Commission respected the reasons given by the general in issuing order to drop forest fire cases involving the 15 companies.
"The Commission III respects and supports the Riau police in resolving the legal cases of forest fires," he said.