INDONESIA – Pontianak, W. Kalimantan (ANTARA News) – Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said the ministry is watching more closely the activities of 300 forestry and mining companies operating in Indonesia, to see who is responsible for forest and bush fires.
“The Environment and Forestry Ministry is watching the activities of around 300 forestry and mining companies including in West Kalimantan. We will immediately warn them if there is hot spot in their concession areas,” Minister Siti Nurbaya said when addressing the opening of a meeting on Synergy in Prevention and Control of Forest and Bush Fires in West Kalimantan here on Monday.
The government is especially concerned with any forest fires in South Sumatra where the country will host Asian Games next month.
Almost every year in dry season forest fires have become a problem with thick smokes blanketing wide areas as far as Malaysia and Singapore.
Siti asks forestry and mining companies to be ready against forest fires during the dry season and help in putting the fires out before they grow big and become out of control.
“We have sent a letter to each of the companies . The companies are expected to answer and give information about the locations of the hot spots. We also ask the companies to take part in handling the hot spots in as far as up to 4 kilometers from their concession,” the minister said.
Siti said in general control over forest fires in West Kalimantan has been better and more effective.
“It is good but the system still need improvement such as in the system of giving information about hot spots from application system to one using feedback from the local communities,” she said.
She said the method of controlling forest and bush fires in West Kalimantan will be displayed at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
“The public need to know how the government and local people in West Kalimantan have coped with forest fires,” she said.
She warned each of the companies as well as the people against using fires for anything including for land clearing.
There are three sanctions for non compliance including administrative, civil law and penal offense sanctions for setting fire on forest or bush lands.
Penal offense is an area of the police but the Ministry could still mete out punishment in the form of administrative sanction and civil law punishment as a deterrent in using fires to open land for farm and plantation or any other purposes, she said.
She said the Ministry is ready to help regional administrations in putting out forest and bush fires.
“If necessary we will send more helicopters . Currently there are six helicopters in West Kalimantan ready anytime to carry out water bombing operation to put out forest fires,” she added.