The National Police announced on Tuesday that it had named one company a suspect and launched separate probes into two other corporations deemed responsible for the rampaging land and forest fires in Sumatra, which have blanketed the island as well as neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.
The suspected company was identified as PT Bumi Mekar Hijau or BMH, while the two other companies under investigation were PT TPR and PT WAI, which, according to the police, were on the verge of being named suspects in the case
The National Police's director for specific crimes Brig. Gen. Yazid Fanani said that the police were currently working to confirm evidence in the case before taking follow-up actions against the two comanies.
'The suspect, BMH, is a South Sumatra-based company, while the other two also operate in the same region,' Yazid said.
Bumi Mekar is a unit of Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper. The company is currently facing a Rp 7.8 trillion lawsuit filed by the government allegedly for causing fires in South Sumatra last year.
Yazid said that the police would allow other institutions tasked with dealing with the haze crisis to launch separate investigations to find out whether the companies could also be slapped with civil cases and administrative charges.
'We don't want a partial handling of this crisis, but a holistic approach that involves other relevant institutions, as we sense that there is a tendency of recurrent offending in these cases,' Yazid added.
The police charged the companies with Article 99 of Law No. 32/2009 on environmental crimes. 'If we later find that their offenses were intentional, they could face a maximum five years behind bars,' Yazid said.
As of today the police were investigating a total of 130 cases with regard to the devastating fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan as well as other areas where hot spots have been detected.
Meanwhile, the National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto said that in addition to the three companies, the police had earlier named a total 126 individuals and 24 corporations suspects in several regions in Indonesia.
'We have dispatched a total of 70 investigators to a number of regions to help local police officers investigate cases related to the haze. We hope that such a move can speed up the investigation of potential violators,' Agus said.
Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan urged the governors whose provinces had suffered from the haze crisis to cooperate in mitigating the disaster that has intensified over the past few days.
According to Luhut, the haze is a serious disaster, that requires a coordinated and serious mitigation effort, as it affects not only Indonesia, but also neighboring countries.
'This is a serious matter and we don't want to be blamed by neighboring countries for not taking action,' Luhut said on Tuesday during his presentation at a Jakarta meeting attended by Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar and the governors of various provinces.
During the meeting, governors from Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan reported on their mitigation efforts and the current haze condition in their provinces.
Among the Sumatran provinces affected by the haze, Jambi has zero fire hot spots, but that has not stopped it from being blanketed with smoke.
'According to our observations over two days, the number of hot spots has already dropped to zero, but we still have smoke,' Jambi Governor Hasan Basri Agus said, adding that wind was blowing in smoke coming from other regions.
Meanwhile, South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin said that the number of hot spots in his province had decreased from 750 to 51.
'It's the result of our significant efforts to mitigate the haze,' Alex said, adding that he and his team had set a target of one week to eliminate all the hot spots.
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