07 Oct 2015
EoF: Sinar Mas/APP’s denial misleading, they source of haze since ten years ago
PEKANBARU – Sinar Mas Group (SMG) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) last week denied publicly that their companies are involved in ongoing forest and land fires. Eyes on the Forest coalition said that media stunt by the giant company is ridiculous and hard to trust.
“We are shocked that they dare to say to media they are not involved in setting forest and land fires suffering us in Riau for over 18 years that also agonize population in Sumatra and Kalimantan islands,” says Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of Walhi Riau. “It is better for them to apologize for what they have been doing for over a decade by their companies as cause of dangerous haze that respired by millions of people. Moreover they should pay compensation for the huge losses inflicted to public and the State.”
Eyes on the Forest has been long time to publish how rampant the forest fires are inside APP/SMG supplier concessions since last 10 years ago. APP was detected to have fire hotspots by 40%, the most in Jan-Feb 2005 period. In addition to this, hotspots in January 2004 - June 2006 based on EoF analysis showing 3564 hotspots were located in APP/SMG associated concessions, or 38% (the most) of four timber supplier classifications (see also table below). In May 2009 EoF analyzed that 22% of total hotspots in Riau coming from APP/SMG supplier concessions, mostly in Giam Siak Kecil landscape.
“Even some APP/SMG affiliated companies like PT. Sakato Pratama Makmur, PT. Bukit Hutani Alam and PT Ruas Utama were named suspects of setting fires in 2013. As their concessions are raged by fires this year, APP/SMG should not evade and deny fact that they are still source of haze though,” says Woro Supartinah, Coordinator of Jikalahari. “Such a rebuttal is not based on strong ground evidence, but mostly due to they only want to avoid bad reputation in managing their concessions.”
In 2013 and 2014 there are five APP/SMG suppliers named suspects for allegedly setting fires in Riau province and there is one supplier in South Sumatra last year. In recent two years PT Bumi Mekar Hijau in South Sumatra has become the worst concession producing polluting haze as 28,000 hectares of its concession (nearly a quarter of Singapore’s size) still choked by fires and smoke until last month.
“Only people who are naïve will say Sinar Mas and APP do not need to bear responsibility,” Riko Kurniawan said. “Probably they have no much knowledge of existing laws and regulation in this country.”
Audit of Compliance of forest fires prevention and mitigation that ever organized by six governmental agencies including UKP4 (Presidential task force to supervise development) and BP-REDD (REDD agency) in 2014 shows that there are 17 timber and palm oil plantation companies who failed in the assessment. Five out of 17 companies are APP/SMG timber suppliers.
While, Jikalahari’s groundchecking in August 2015 found that two APP suppliers will be filed to the police for allegedly setting the fires this year. They are PT Arara Abadi and PT Ruas Utama Jaya, while from APRIL is PT Sumatra Riang Lestari. See Jikalahari report on EoF web.
Eyes on the Forest has analyzed that dozens of APP/SMG associated timber suppliers and their own ones have fire hotspots for over a decade. The NGOs monitor satellite images of fires and analyzed them before publishing them to public globally in its website.
“There is no need for them [APP/SMG] to perform a media stunt to deny relentless law enforcers work in investigating forest fires. Or do they panic due to the Singapore government will take a stern action by its new Transboundary Haze Act that will nab culprits?” asks Woro. “While in Indonesia this corporate apparently gets extra privilege by the Government,” she adds.
“Our call is clear to the Indonesian Government and Singaporean Government to take stern measure to all culprits of setting fires as regulated by existing laws and regulation to halt this repeating catastrophe,” says Nursamsu of WWF-Indonesia.
The cost of forest fires in Indonesia is enormous to economy, health, social, education, and ecology which an expert classifies this could be worse than 1997 fires. Even it takes casualties to children and vulnerable people to haze effects in Sumatra. “Up to now haze still shroud Sumatra and Kalimantan as hotspots come out from peatlands which mostly degraded and dried out. The degraded peats should be restored, rewetted and not being exploited any longer,” Nursamsu says.
EoF analysis finds that 1987 hotspots during July-September 2015 in Jambi and South Sumatra provinces come from concessions associated to APP/SMG (see map below). PT Bumi Andalas Permai has 763 hotspots that followed by PT BMH (both are APP suppliers) with 437 hotspots, which are significant to thicken haze in Sumatra that migrate to two neighboring countries.
EoF also finds that 214 hotspot were detected inside APP/SMG associated companies in Riau, while in West Kalimantan there are 41 hotspots found in such a group during July-September.
The Indonesian government is urged to take stern measure immediately by using legal instruments, either administrative or criminal, against companies who allegedly perpetrators of setting fires from any business groups and any country. EoF also calls the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to take stern action against their respective investment companies who involved in setting fires.
For further information please contact:
Woro Supartinah, Jikalahari ph: +62 813 1756 6965
Riko Kurniawan, Walhi Riau ph: +62 813 7130 2269
Nursamsu, WWF-Indonesia ph: +62 811 7582 217
Sulhani, EoF Network in West Kalimantan (WWF-ID West Kalimantan, Lembaga Titian, Kontak Rakyat Borneo, Environmental Law Clinic, Pontianak Institute and Jari Borneo Barat)
ph: +62 856 5229 0715
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