Posts Tagged ‘Environment and Forestry ministry’

Indonesia Court Finds Corporation Guilty of Setting Illegal Fires

August 31, 2016

A helicopter from Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency dousing fires in Kampar in Riau province on Aug 29, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

The Palembang High Court has overturned a lower court’s decision to clear pulpwood firm Bumi Mekar Hijau (BMH) of illegally setting fires on its concession land in 2014.

According to a copy of the Aug 12 ruling that was seen by The Straits Times, the firm was found to have “committed an unlawful act”.

The High Court also ordered BMH, which supplies products to Indonesia’s Sinar Mas Group, to pay 78.5 billion rupiah (S$8 million) in damages.

The award is a small fraction of the 7.8 trillion rupiah in damages sought by the Environment and Forestry Ministry when it first filed the civil suit against BMH last year.

Still, green groups such as the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) hailed the latest verdict as a “small win” for Indonesia’s conservation efforts.

Walhi’s South Sumatra chapter director Hadi Jatmiko said: “On the one hand, the court is on the side of the environment by saying BMH is guilty of having illegally burnt 20,000ha of its own concession in 2014. But it is disappointing that the compensation is less than 1 per cent of the total sum demanded.”

Indonesia – through its Environment and Forestry Ministry – has been taking errant firms to task over illegal forest fires that have been the cause of transboundary haze pollution.

Mr Jasmin Ragil Utomo, who is from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, yesterday acknowledged the court’s decision.

“The most important thing is that the court has declared that the company has committed a violation,” said Mr Jasmin, who is the ministry’s director for environmental dispute settlement.

BMH’s lawyers declined to comment on the case, saying they have not received an official copy of the latest verdict.

This is not the first time BMH is in the news over allegations related to forest fires. Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency earlier this year said the firm has been ordered to restore 95,000ha of damaged peatland in its concessions.


An Indonesian soldier tries to extingusih a peatland fire in Kampar, Riau, Sumatra island, Indonesia on Aug 23, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS / ANTARA FOTO

Satellite data from Global Forest Watch detected at least 22 fire alerts in their pulpwood concessions between Aug 21 and Sunday.

Indonesia – through its Environment and Forestry Ministry – has been taking errant firms to task over illegal forest fires that have been the cause of transboundary haze pollution.

Haze from fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra returned in recent weeks, prompting fears of a repeat of last year’s crisis, which sent air pollution levels to a record high and affected millions of people in the region.

Yesterday, heavy rainfall across Indonesia provided much-needed relief for people in Sumatra’s Riau province.

Several areas in Riau were hit by severe air pollution in recent days, prompting some schools to suspend classes since Monday.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) yesterday said a combination of rain and fire-fighting efforts, including cloud-seeding operations, helped improve air quality.

Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who heads BNPB’s data and information division, said the air pollution standard index for most regions in Sumatra was generally under 50, or in the “good” range.

In Riau’s Rokan Hilir regency – one of the worst-hit areas in recent days and where fire-fighting efforts were focused yesterday – the air quality was “moderate”.

“Fire-fighting operations in the six provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan will continue,” said Dr Sutopo.

A total of five BNPB helicopters as well as three fixed-wing aircraft have been deployed to douse fires in Riau, he added.

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Indonesia investigating Singapore-owned company for forest fires; suspends 4 local firms — Air pollution at unhealthy levels

September 22, 2015

A Singapore -owned firm is under investigation for causing forest fires in Indonesia, where authorities have also ordered four Indonesian companies to suspend operations.

POSTED: 22 Sep 2015

The root of a tree is seen in a burnt palm plantation area near Tanjung Siapi Api port in Palembang, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, September 19, 2015. REUTERS/Beawiharta

JAKARTA: A Singapore-owned firm is under investigation for causing forest fires in Indonesia, an Indonesian environment ministry official said on Tuesday.

Thick smoke caused by forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan islands has blanketed the region in recent weeks, pushing pollution levels to unhealthy levels.

Over 200 plantation and forestry companies are being investigated, said Muhammad Yunus, director of criminal law at the environment ministry.

“That number can still go up,” he said. Mr Yunus added a Singapore-owned company is among the companies being investigated, but did not elaborate.

Indonesia’s smoke is everybody lung problem: Smoke rising from fires burning at a concession area in Pelalawan, Riau province, yesterday. Green groups have maintained that lenient sentences against errant companies remain a weak link as the deterrent effect has not been felt. AFP photo

INDONESIA ORDERS FOUR COMPANIES TO SUSPEND OPERATIONS

Indonesian authorities have taken action against four Indonesian companies in Sumatra whose lands were set ablaze resulting in smog.

PT Tempirai PAM Resources and PT Waringin Agro Jaya – oil palm plantation companies in South Sumatra – have had their permits revoked. They have been instructed to stop operations.

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The other two companies are in Riau. The Environment and Forestry ministry suspended the operations of PT Hutani Solarestari and PT Riau Langgam Inti Hibrido – a logging company.

All four companies could face prosecution should the Indonesian authorities pursue criminal charges against them. So far 27 companies are being investigated for carrying out the slash and burn techniques in clearing their land, while 140 individuals are also being questioned.

Meanwhile rain has brought much respite to residents in Riau – one of the areas hardest hit by the haze. Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation agency said the air quality and visibility have improved along with the drastic drop in the number of hotspots. Some schools have began to re-open.

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