Palm Oil Association Rejects Forest Burning Claims

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  • Forest fire monitoring command center at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Manggala Wanabakti, Jakarta, September 22, 2015. TEMPO/Aditia Noviansyah

    Forest fire monitoring command center at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Manggala Wanabakti, Jakarta, September 22, 2015. TEMPO/Aditia Noviansyah

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) rejected claims that the palm oil industry caused the forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. "The biggest downside was being accused as cause of the fire," said Gapki ChairmanJoko Spriyono, in a press conference, Tuesday, September 22.

    He claimed that Gapki is commited to zero burning policy or without burning. However, Joko said the fires are inevitable in the hot weather with strong winds. This is a result of the concession bordering with shrub areas. "The land we are often exposed to fire sparks,” he said.

    Gapki suggested that the government and Parliament to revise Law No. 32 of 2009 on the Protection and Management of the Environment. In Article 69, paragraph 2 of land burning is allowed with a maximum area of two hectares. There is also a Government Regulation and Regulatory Governor that allow people to set fires to clear land.

    Head of Agricultural and Spatial Gapki, Eddy Martono said there needs to be changes in legislation. “At least there must be a clear SOP (Standarad Operational Procedure)," said Eddy.

    A Singapore-owned company is suspected as a cause of forest fires in Indonesia. This was stated an official of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

    Thick haze from forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan have blanketed the region in recent weeks, polluting and dangerous to health.

    Muhammad Yunus, the Director of Criminal Law at the Ministry of Environment, said more than 200 companies and forestry plantations are being investigated. "That number could still rise," he said.

    Yunus added, a Singapore-owned company is one of the companies under investigation.

    Earlier, Reuters quoted an environment ministry official on Tuesday, that they have ordered four companies to suspend operations for causing forest fires which have sent smoke across a swathe of Southeast Asia.

    AHMAD FAIZ IBNU SANI | TRUST.ORG | MECHOS DE LAROCHA