The Jakarta Post
Indonesian lawmakers said on Thursday that the House of Representative would support President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's move to punish those responsible for starting forest fires.
'Since the previous government was in office, we have been supporting the government in any effort to stop forest burning,' House member Herman Khaeron told thejakartapost.com.
The President has asked police to bring those responsible for the forest fires before the courts and revoke their company licenses.
'[Attempts to bring] them to court have been happening over the past two years,' Herman said, suggesting it was about time that efforts were intensified.
National Police Chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said on Wednesday that the police had ramped up their prosecution of firms responsible for the rampaging fires, The Jakarta Post reported.
Badrodin said that police investigators had named at least seven companies and 133 individual suspected of using fires to clear land in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Police have released the acronyms of the seven companies at which the suspects worked, and they are: PT BMH, PT RPP, and PT RPS in South Sumatra; PT LIH in Riau; and PT GAP, PT MBA and PT ASP in Central Kalimantan, the Post reported.
Some of the suspects were charged under Article 108 of the 2014 Plantation Law and could face a maximum 10-year prison sentence and fines of up to Rp10 billion (US$692,000).
Responding to the allegations, one of the suspected companies, Bumi Mekar Hijau (BHM), denied any wrongdoing, saying that none of BHM's executive had been arrested by Indonesian police.
'The Indonesian police investigators are conducting an investigation into [our] company and we have cooperated well,' Kristianto, BHM legal representative stated in a text message received by thejakartapost.com on Thursday.
Kristianto added that from the start, BHM had implemented a 'zero burning' policy and helped the government of Indonesia to preserve the environment.
'The company also expresses a deep concern over this fire disaster and is actively cooperating with the government of Indonesia to help control the forest fires,' Kristianto said.
According to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, around 52,000 hectares of land in Sumatra have been ravaged by fire, and 138,000 ha in Kalimantan.
Smoke-belching blazes, an annual problem in Southeast Asia during the dry season, have intensified in Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo over the past three weeks, sending a cloud of acrid haze across the region. (DK)
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