They are now investigating into the matter."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Environment Ministry has sent a team of officers to look into the cause of forest and plantation fires, which have blanketed several parts of Sumatra island over the past few weeks.

"We have sent a team there. They are now investigating into the matter," Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya stated here on Monday.

"If the investigating team finds that the land fires involves any company we will deal with it pursuant to Law No. 32/2009 on Environmental Impact Analysis and the Environment," he pointed out.

When a company was found guilty of setting fire to woodland in Rawa Tripa area some time ago, it was required to compensate Rp300 billion for the loss caused by the woodland fire, he pointed out.

"All companies are the same, regardless of whether they are foreign or local. If they set fire to woodland, they must compensate for the loss," he explained.

If somebody is found guilty of setting fire to woodland, the Environment Ministry will hand him/her to the Riau provincial police, he added.

"We hope that the investigating team will find the culprits soon," he stated.

The fires have reportedly ravaged about 7 thousand hectares of land and destroyed 90 houses.

The Terra and Aqua satellite has detected 1,046 hotspots from forests, plantations and peatland fires across Sumatra Island, it was reported Saturday morning.

"Of the total number, 963 were found in Riau Province. The number is significantly up from those on the previous day," Sugarin, the head of the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology and geophysics agency, stated here on Saturday.

The NOAA 18 satellite, however, detected only 138 hotspots across Sumatra on Friday, including 70 in Riau province, according to the Riau disaster mitigation office (BPBD).

So far this month, the NOAA 8 satellite revealed 2,208 hotspots on Sumatra Island, including 1,272 in Riau Province.

(Reporting by Indriani/INE/KR-BSR/A014)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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