Hotspots detected, giant companies play the blind-and-deaf?

EoF News / 24 July 2013

EoF News (PEKANBARU) - Last month’s Riau forest fire catastrophe apparently comes to re-occur in this month. Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) of Pekanbaru recorded a significant increase on the numbers of hotspots detected in Riau Province in the last five days which reached to 230 hotspots.

Hotspots were found inside and outside companies’ concessions, an official said, as a report highlighted flares come out from a pulpwood supplier in Dumai city or Senepis forest block.

BMKG record shows that significant increase of hotspots appeared on 20 and 21 July with 173 and 230 hotspots respectively which based on NOAA satellite monitoring.

Edwin Putera, Secretary of Nature Conservation Agency BBKSDA of Riau Province stated that the hotspots spread out in ex-concession areas, industrial forest (HTI) and plantation areas, community lands, and few of them are located in conservation forested area, reported.

Forest Ranger Chief of Dumai city said Tuesday that there were new hotspots detected in Dumai, while fires in PT Suntara Gaja Pati concession finally had been extinguished, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported today.

Dumai’s Sungai Sembilan Police Office Chief, Jasril Tabing, said that he learnt the new flares causing haze in the area came from old hotspots which returned to flare again as hot temperature and strong wind helped make it happen.

Head of Dumai Forest Ranger, Tengku Ismet, told media that five of seven hotspots found in Dumai were located in the industrial timber plantation (HTI) concessions of PT Suntara Gaja Pati (SGP) since last Sunday night to Monday evening.

Forest Rangers had informed the company about the forest fire in its concessions as, in accordance to the law that every company is responsible for everything occurred inside its concessions areas. PT SGP is a supplier for Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) which located in Senepis block.

However, the company shows no response to handle its concession fires. It is supported by Head of City’s Regional Disaster Mitigation Body (BPBD), Noviar Indra Putra’s call to the company, “We ask the company whose areas were also fired to immediately get their hands on the case to extinguish the fire.” as quoted on local media, Tribun Pekanbaru.

Another complaint against the company’s blind-and-deaf act comes from Vernando Siahaan, Regional Coordinator of Indonesian Christian Students Movement of Riau, “Since the severe haze disaster occurred in the previous month, the company has not shown any sensitivity to help the society.” He also suggested the city government to take lessons from this to start taking a stern action on the stubborn company.

A farmer reportedly detained by police which made 25 people named suspects of setting forest and land fires in Riau province since 5 July, Antarariau reported.

Riau Police now are investigating 19 cases which also involved a Malaysian palm oil company and 25 individuals allegedly setting fires in June and July. Two people reportedly died due to forest and land fires raged the province in June.