Law enforcement is being bolstered further, as evidenced by the sealing off of 35 (scorched) areas. 
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government has further bolstered the enforcement of regulations related to forest and land fires (karhutla) to protect forests and lands amid El Nino, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD has said.

"Law enforcement is being bolstered further, as evidenced by the sealing off of 35 (scorched) areas. This is the initial step of law enforcement," he informed at a press conference on the Cross-Ministerial/Agency Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fires in Jakarta on Monday.

Dozens of people have emerged as suspects in cases related to the burning of forests and land, he added.

According to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the El Nino heat phenomenon is predicted to last until February or March next year, he noted.

"Hopefully, the El Nino will end in January, but we should anticipate if it lasts until February or March of 2024," he added.

The minister further said that the peak of El Nino began in September, and currently, Indonesia is experiencing high temperatures on account of the Sun’s rays directly hitting the Earth without encountering any cloud cover.

"We should stay vigilant because we are still in the peak of El Nino, which will last for quite a time until the beginning of next year," he added.

Earlier, the Environment and Forestry (LHK) Ministry affirmed that it will impose multi-layered sanctions on those found responsible for causing forest and land fires in Indonesia.

"We are implementing multi-layered law enforcement by imposing administrative sanctions, such as revoking permits, filing lawsuits to get environmental compensations from perpetrators, and also enforcing criminal law," the ministry's environmental and forestry law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, informed.

Those found responsible for starting forest and land fires could face 12 years in jail and a fine of Rp12 billion (US$763.6 thousand) if the fires threaten the health of people.

During the period from January 1 to October 5, 2023, the LHK Ministry sent warning letters to 220 corporations in whose concession areas hotspots were detected. Most of the letters were sent to companies in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, and South Sumatra.

The ministry also sealed off 35 scorched lands — 11 in West Kalimantan, 10 in Central Kalimantan, and 14 in South Sumatra. A majority of the lands were used for oil palm plantations.

Related news: Wildfire in Bangka Tengah's Koba protected forest put out: BPBD
Related news: Riau plans to issue wildfire emergency preparedness status

Translator: Zubi M, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2023