The Jakarta Post
Jambi Governor Zumi Zola has claimed that nearly all forest fires in his province are intentionally started as part of land-clearing efforts.
"In Jambi, only a small percentage of fires occur naturally. During the last three months, we have already caught five people for burning attempts," Zumi said in Jakarta on Monday.
Forest fires have returned to the province on account of a lack of rainfall. The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency's (BMKG) Jambi station head, Nurangesti Widyastuti, said the fires may worsen if rain did not fall in the coming days.
The provincial government's efforts to fight forest fires include deploying officials and residents to extinguish the fires, banning the slash-and-burn method for land clearing and recommending the revocation of licenses for companies found guilty of forest burning, said Zumi.
"We are monitoring forest continuously. We are fining and charging owners of companies who still adopt the slash-and-burn method," Zumi said.
In cooperation with the local legislative council (DPRD), the Jambi government has issued a bylaw prohibiting the slash-and-burn method for land clearing.
"We have a program that provides each district with one excavator. But implementing the program is hard as we are short of funds," Zumi said.
The local government has also urged private companies to help combat forest fires.
'For the plantation companies, this is the right time to implement CSR [corporate social responsibility] programs and not just give charity,' he added.
Jambi was among the provinces most affected by last year's forest fires, which spread haze to neighboring Singapore and Malaysia and caused serious health problems. (bbn)
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