Ministries partner to reduce veld fires

Ministries partner to reduce veld fires

02 July 2013

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Malaysisa / Indonesia — Malaysian firms with plantations in Indonesia will meet with the natural resources and environment (NRE) and plantation industries and commodities ministers on July 9 to discuss the next stage in combating peat fires.

The meeting will address the roles of the Malaysian companies in both preventing and fighting open burning in Sumatra, Riau and Kalimantan that caused the haze in the region.

NRE Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel told reporters today he had spoken with Sime Darby Plantation and Lembaga Tabung Haji about their involvement in the fires.

“Investigations found that Sime Darby and Tabung Haji were not responsible for fires that brought haze to Malaysia. This is because our Malaysian companies adhere to zero burning techniques,” he said.

The zero burning policy prohibits setting fire to crop roots to clear the land as flames will spread underground.

Sime Darby, which runs PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation (PTTMP) and PT Bhumireksa Nusa Sejati (PTBNS) in Riau, said there were no fires in any of its operating areas.
The hotspots identified in PTTMP turned out to be outside their concession area while hotspots in PTBNS’s concession area were operated by local communities, and not Sime Darby.

Tabung Haji denied burnings within PT TH Indo Plantations’ perimeters while Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd reiterated its strict practice of zero burning policy.

Meanwhile, water pumps have been installed at peat fire-prone ecotourism area, Paya Indah Wetlands.

“Open burnings that occur in areas like this are small contributors to the haze that we must address.

“The five water pumps that have been installed at the Paya Indah Wetlands will be turned on every 10 hours to ensure that fires don’t get out of hand,” said Palanivel.

He urged state governments to work with the NRE to enforce these measures across the peninsula in areas that are hardest hit by the haze.

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