Walhi presses for stringent measures against firms behind forest fires

Walhi presses for stringent measures against firms behind forest fires

Thick smog emanating from forest fires in Pontianak, West Kalimantan. (ANTARA/Andilala/sh)

Pontianak, W Kalimantan (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) of the West Kalimantan chapter urged the government to adopt strict measures against domestic and foreign corporations behind forest fires in their concessions that triggered haze in the region.

Director of West Kalimantan's Walhi Anton P. Widjaya remarked that the organization is monitoring the government's commitment to enforcing the law against errant companies in the province.

"We are upbeat about the investigation process by the police and Environment Ministry being conducted in a transparent manner. The move to seal off some concessions did not have any impact, if it will only end in administrative sanction. The police should delve deeper into it to investigate corporate crime cases in connection with the land and forest fires to unearth the involvement of domestic or foreign companies," Widjaya noted in a statement here on Tuesday.

The government has sealed off plantations operated by 26 companies, including four subsidiaries of Malaysian groups and a Singaporean company, after fires were detected in their concessions covering 5,531 hectares of land, the ministry had stated on Sept 14.

On August 21, the Environment and Forestry Ministry had sealed off a Malaysian palm oil plantation PT Ichtiar Gusti Pudi (IGP) that caused forest fires in 133 hectares of its concession land in Muut, Pak Mayam Village of Landak District. No further information is available on the legal proceedings against the company, Widjaya stated.

PT. IGP, a subsidiary of the Kuala Lumpur-based Ahmad Zaki Resources Berhad (AZRB Group), has over 15,800 hectares of palm oil plantation in the Landak District, West Kalimantan.

Another Malaysian company involved in the forest fire case in West Kalimantan is PT Sime Indo Agro (SIA), a subsidiary of Malaysia's Minamas/Sime Darby Group, located in Sanggau District.

Walhi noted that 76 hotspots were detected within the company's concession land from August 1 to September 9, Widjaya noted.

Other Malaysian companies identified to have started forest fires are PT Sukses Karya Sawit, a unit of IOI Corporation Berhad in Ketapang, with 35 hectares of area being burnt down, and PT Rafi Kamajaya Abadi, a unit of TDM Berhad in Melawi, where the fire had ravaged 600 hectares of land.

The ministry has sealed off the companies.

In addition to Malaysian companies, the ministry has sealed off a Singapore-affiliated rubber company PT Hutan Ketapang Industri (HKI), a subsidiary of the Sampoerna Agro Group, for causing fires in its 138 hectares of concession land in Ketapang District.

"Land and forest fires in plantations owned by Malaysia and Singapore are the facts that we came across on field. We deplore the denial of those foreign companies, and in fact, it has exposed their sheer disregard for the Indonesian law. We fully support strict legal measures being imposed against those foreign companies," he stated.
Related news: Government makes maximal efforts to fight land, forest fires: Jokowi Related news: West Kalimantan Police currently processing 66 cases of forest fires

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