Jakarta (Greeners) – Government’s decision to accept foreign aid in efforts to tackle forest and peatlands fires is just confirming to the world that it is not an easy task, said Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, at a press conference in Jakarta, on Monday (12/10).
At the presser, Minister Siti also conveyed Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s statement that these foreign aids, under ASEAN agreement, have been accepted through several phases.
“[By] receiving these aids, we are also showing those countries that it is not easy to put out fires in peatlands. Vice President also underlined that they [foreigners] can see our difficulties in tackling peat fires. A total of 580,000 hectares burned down,” said Minister Siti.
Furthermore, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal, and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan said that weather phenomenon or El Nino followed by increased sea surface temperature this year had hampered the process to put out forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Minister Luhut added that the government was now focusing on fighting fires in Ogan Komering Ilir district of South Sumatera, which was hit hardest by haze. Up till Monday, South Sumatera Fires Command Post (Posko) had already dispatched the M18 helicopter to put out fires in the district.
“Thick haze has reduced visibility to only one hundred meter in the Ogan Komering Ilir district. Meanwhile, other districts’ visibilities are still 800 meter though affected by haze,” he said.
Government also prepares long term prevention steps for these forest and land fires, such as to review companies violating their permits by burning activities. “Their permits will be revoked and their lands will be returned to the government,” he said.
On law enforcement, National Police Chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, said that 12 companies declared as suspects in South Sumatra forest fires, many of them owned by Malaysia, China and Singapore.
“From our investigation, 113 individuals, 48 companies, and 57 cases are already completed and ready for trial (P21). There are four companies are still in phase one and waiting for District Attorney. Forest fires violation is accommodated in article 108 of the 2009 Law on Environmental Protection and Management which stipulates minimum three years to ten years in prison and maximum fine of Rp 10 billion (US$ 736,601),” he said.
Report by Danny Kosasih