MoE: 3 companies named suspects of forest fire allegations

EoF News / 12 August 2014

EoF News (PEKANBARU) - The Ministry of Environment (MoE) has named three companies suspects of forest and land fires that hit Riau in February-March this year, a senior official said last week.

Antara news agency reported that there were already three companies proceeded to legal process after the investigators probed among 26 companies involved in 29 forest fire cases in Riau province.  The three companies are PT. TFDI and PT TKWL (oil palm plantations) in Siak District and a pulpwood supplier, PT. SGP (affiliated to APP/SMG) in Dumai District.

Among 29 companies investigated by the ministry, three companies are not proceeded to further investigation due to unclear ownership status of the burnt areas, said Imam Hendargo Abu Ismoyo, Division V Environment Environmental Law Compliance Deputy at a press briefing in Jakarta (6/8/2014).  Up to late June 2014, 18 companies and 67 witnesses have been interrogated by joint investigators of specialists of forest fires and environmental damage.  

Imam also explained about the constraints that slow down the investigation which are limited investigators resources and facilities to get to the locations, experts’ tights schedules and also the absences of witnesses that causes re-scheduling of the interviews. “The rest companies are still under first investigation process,” Imam added as quoted on Mongabay Indonesia.

Quoted on, Zenzi Suhadi from WALHI (Indonesia’s Friends of the Earth), stated that the obstacles that MoE explained are technical constraints. “Technical constraints happened due to unreadiness and haven’t played a strategic role.” Zenzi also added that MoE should improve its resources in order to play its effective and strategic role.

Previously since 2012, MoF has investigated and legally proceeded some companies allegedly involved in fores and land fires, namely PT Kalista Alam (convicted) and PT Surya Panen Subur (trial process). For 2013 cases, there are seven criminal case files has been handed over to the Attorney General and one civil case is still in the lawsuit drafting process.

In Riau, eight companies named suspects for fires in 2013, where one of them are in the trial in Pangkalan Kerinci district court. There are four pulpwood suppliers that associated to APP/SMG and APRIL/RGE.