"Riau is a province which has peat lands. Its topographic characters show that the thickness of its peat land can reach tens of meters which enable the ember to stay dormant underneath," Muhammad Herwan, executive director of Kadin for Riau, said here on Friday.
He said that this condition enabled the ember of land and forest fires in previous years to stay and could not be put out at the bottom of the peat land.
Muhammad said artificial rain made to extinguish the fires could only put out fires on the land surface. But the source of fire under the surface some tens of meters of peat land is still there which could easily come to the surface during the dry season.
"There are no deliberate efforts to burn lands, particularly domestic and foreign investors. The fire came to the surface due to hot weather and was ignited by strong winds, just like fires that burn chaff," he said.
He said that this should be study closely by the ministry of research and technology and the palm oil plantations to prove this analysis.
"If it is true, technology that could prevent it or overcome it should be found so that the ember that often stay could really be fought in the bud and forest fires would no longer recur when the dry season takes place," the Kadin official said.
Riau Deputy Governor HR Mambang Mit said last week that about 3,700 hectares of land in Riau Province had been burnt. The worst fires took place in three districts sharing direct borders with Singapore and Malaysia.
"The worst land fires took place in the districts of Rokan Hilir, Kota Dumai and Bengkalis," the deputy governor said.
In efforts to put out forest fires in Riau Province, the government has set a total of Rp100 billion to be allocated for making rain, procuring materials and providing planes to conduct water bombing.
"The government would lease planes from Korea and Russia that are able to carry 4,000 to 5,000 liters of water for water bombing operations," Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono said after a coordination meeting to discuss the problem here on Thursday.
In the meantime, Minister Agung Laksono said that whoever was proven involved in oil palm land fires in Raiu Province would be taken to court and punished.
"Guilty companies, regardless of whether their owners come from Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore, will be acted upon and taken to court," Agung Laksono said on Thursday.
He said that if they were proven to have burned forests, the companies and their owners were to be acted upon. The companies could have their permits revoked and their owners were charged with crime. The punishment would be meted out by the court based facts found in the fields.
Agung said that now investigation in the field was still going on. Police were also still working hard to investigate the problem based on the request of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"I heard this morning that the team in the field had found several pieces of evidence and data such as burning tools in the locations. They will all become evidence in the court. But I could not yet reveal details about it," the coordinating minister said.
Therefore, he could not yet explain the kind of violations that had been taking place in the field. However, if fires were found on lands which would be transformed into palm oil plantations there must be parties who should be responsible.(*)