Deputy Minister of Environment for Natural Conservation and Environmental Degradation Management, Masnellyarti Hilman, said in Balikpapan of East Kalimantan Thursday that those companies allegedly responsible for forest fires as detected by overlay of hotspots and HPH or HTI concession maps followed by crosschecks with data from Forestry Ministry and Agriculture Ministry, Bisnis Indonesia daily reported Friday (Aug. 25).
On the same occasion, Minister of Environment Rachmat Witoelar said 15 companies totally nationwide were reported to the police for open burning, and the ministry had seized thousands of hectares land burned for evidence.
“The action to handover list of timber companies to the police is a proof that the State Ministry of Environment is taking a stern measure against the culprits of environmental degradation,” Rahmat Witoelar quoted by Bisnis Indonesia as saying.
The report did not specify the companies allegedly involved in open burning in Riau and other provinces.
In Kuantan Singingi district, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said that he has not received yet any list of plantations that alleged to burn the forest and land in Riau. The minister said he encouraged the authority to prosecute any plantations that involved in open burning forest and land.
Ministry of Forestry issued press release Thursday urging businesspeople of Industrial Timber Plantation (HTI), plantations, plantation communities, and farmers surrounding forest not to commit open burning or immediately extinguish the burning for land clearing.
The ministry warned that the perpetrators of forest and land burning could be sentenced to 5 year imprisonment or fine to Rp 10 billion regarding to Law Number 41 year 1999 on Forestry, Government Regulation number 45 year 2004 on Forest Conservation, and Government Regulation number 4 year 2001 on Management on Ecological Damage and Pollution relating to forest and land fires.
Forestry Ministry has deployed 1,590 persons of Forest Fireguard Brigade, well-known as Manggala Agni, to 10 provinces nationwide in an attempt to extinguish fires and train locals to tackle the problem.
Meanwhile, from Malaysia, reports said another senior official in the country urged Indonesia government to tackle problems of forest fires. Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz said tough action was needed to resolve the recurring issue. "We have to contend that this is something that will happen unless real serious efforts are being put by the governments where the haze originates," she told reporters at Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) talks. Rafidah said open burning must be contained as it was hurting members of the bloc including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand.
Despite thick haze pollution had occurred in Pekanbaru for several days, the city government has yet to distribute masks to residents. Schools still open in the capital as Mayor Herman Abdullah said the condition remain tolerable. Particle meter 10 (Pm10) indicator for air pollution in Pekanbaru read 110 up meaning it exceeded the tolerable one which is below 100.