Ministry to take over concessions raged by fires, APP supplier named suspect

EoF News / 16 September 2015

EoF News (PEKANBARU) -- Indonesia Police Headquarters named PT BMH as a suspect of forest fires in South Sumatra and it is the second time the timber supplier of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) convicted to the crime following its legal status in February last year.

While Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar told that there will be immediate suspension of operation companies setting the fires that caused haze pollution and disaster in Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.  

The Government will take over the management of the concessions hit by fires and will experience natural succession, Siti Nurbaya said Tuesday in Jakarta.

At the same press briefing, Chief of Indonesian Police Gen. Badroddin Haiti told media that the police intensified investigation to 10 companies allegedly setting fires in three provinces. The companies are BMH, RPP and RPS in South Sumatra, LIH from Riau, MBA, GAP and ASP from Central Kalimantan and KAL, RJP, SKM from West Kalimantan.

Led by Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law and Security, Luhut Panjaitan, the government held coordination meeting of haze mitigation on Tuesday that attended by the related ministers and governor affected by fires.   Luhut said that there would be stern measures taken to individuals and companies that setting the fires.

Brig.-Gen. Yazid Fanani, the Police Director of Specific Crime, said that beside PT BMH the law enforcers also probe PT TPR and PT WAI that also operated in South Sumatra.

EoF analyzed that BHM is Bumi Mekar Hijau that in July sued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry over administrative charge of IDR 7 trillions in Palembang court. PT BMH first named suspect by the Ministry in February and its 28,941 hectares of the concession raged by fires causing horrible haze in 2014 and 2015.

“If in the investigation we find deliberate motive of fires, the suspect will be threatened into five years imprisonment,” Yazid said.

Minister Siti Nurbaya said that taking over concessions raged by fires was a step needed to take. “I think [we] have many options, but the important thing, grab the land first. Then we will protect it,” she said Tuesday as quote as saying by web news.

She said the Ministry was clarifying concessions that allegedly set fires in South Sumatra namely SBM, MSA, RHM, TPJ, BPU, PKR, TIC, GAL, PSM, and BMH. EoF analyzed that TPJ, RHM and BMH are APP timber suppliers.

“In upcoming weeks there will be three to four companies sanctioned. Two companies from Riau, while other two from South Sumatra,” Siti Nurbaya said.

The government would penalize and charge the perpetrators with criminal and administrative sanctions including operational suspension and rescinding permits.

In Riau, PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo, a palm oil concession located in Pelalawan district, named suspect of setting fires by the police. It is the second time the company named suspect following in 2013 by the Ministry of Environment.

The police said there were 132 fires cases probed by the law enforcers where 24 of them would be proceeded to the court. There were 126 cases involving individuals allegedly setting forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Riau’s Acting Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rahman declared emergency status of haze disaster to the province on Monday and it is followed by the deployment of thousands of soldiers to Pekanbaru by two Hercules aircrafts yesterday.

The government set up tents for haze care in Pekanbaru where environmentalists criticized the late response by the government in mitigating haze affected millions of population in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency estimated that 25,6 millions of Sumatra and Kalimantan’s residents were impacted to haze from forest and peatland fires. While, 80 percent of Sumatra’s area is blanketed by thick haze causing health threats.

In Riau alone, there are 15,000 residents whom detected suffering upper respiratory infection disease. Two residents died this month in Pekanbaru which believed that their illness were worsened by thick haze and poor air quality due to forest and land fires. The provincial government denied the linkage of the deaths and the haze.

In social media protests, netizens blasted there is no quick action by the government to help population hit by haze due to worsening air quality.

Singapore and Malaysia since last week are also affected by haze from Sumatra and the first offered a help but the Indonesian government declined it.