West Kalimantan governor summons 94 companies over land, forest fires

West Kalimantan governor summons 94 companies over land, forest fires

Coordination meeting to discuss land and forest fire control efforts in West Kalimantan (Rendra Oxtora)

The 94 companies comprise 56 plantation companies and 38 timber estates. We summoned them because hotspots were found around their concession areas.
Pontianak, W Kalimantan (ANTARA) - West Kalimantan Governor Sutarmidji, at a coordination meeting to discuss land and forest fire control, Monday, summoned 94 plantation companies and timber estates believed to have set fire to land in their respective concession areas.

"The 94 companies comprise 56 plantation companies and 38 timber estates. We summoned them, as hotspots were found around their concessions," he stated.

Also present at the meeting were the director general of law enforcement of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, heads of district disaster mitigation boards, and heads/deputy heads of districts where the hotspots were found.

The meeting was held in response to rampant land and forest fires in several districts in the province.

Earlier, Sutarmidji had given an ultimatum to summon companies believed to have set fire to land based on the monitoring of hotspots by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan) satellite some time ago.

Initially, the governor had summoned 10 companies. However, he believed the number will likely increase, for which he had summoned the 94 companies on Monday.

At the meeting, he urged the management of the companies to take prompt steps in case of fires in their concessions.

"If only staff members came (to the meeting), we urged them to return home. We want to overcome it (the problem) soon, so we only summoned managers or decision-making employees," he stated.

During the summons, the West Kalimantan provincial government also appealed to the companies to clarify on the hotspots detected through the satellite.

"If they want to tender a clarification on them, we will give them an opportunity to defend themselves, as we have obtained the coordinate points of the hotspots from the Lapan monitoring, and the hotspots were found around the concession areas," he stated.

Sutarmidji has pledged to uphold the regulation. If the companies were found to deliberately set fire to land, the provincial government will freeze their permits.

If the fires were found within a two-kilometer radius of the companies, they were obliged to extinguish them.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) had earlier remarked that smog emanating from forest fires had hung over the provinces of Riau, West Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan, BNPB spokesman Agus Wibowo remarked.

"The haze blows toward the southeast and north. The smog cover has increased in Riau or Central Kalimantan," Agus Wibowo noted on Saturday (August 10, 2019).

The air quality has worsened in Pekanbaru, Riau, and Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. The concentrations of particulate matter (PM10) reached 173, or considered unhealthy, in Pekanbaru, and 126, or moderate, in Palangkaraya.

Based on satellite monitoring on Saturday, August 10, 2019, at 7 a.m. local time, 126 hotspots were found in Riau, four in Jambi, 13 each in South Sumatra and South Kalimantan, 533 in West Kalimantan, and 159 in Central Kalimantan. Related news: Smog from forest fires shrouds Riau, West & Central Kalimantan

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