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Jakarta Post

Two arrested over fires allegedly set to clear land

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru, Riau   /   Tue, February 20, 2018   /   06:13 pm
Two arrested over fires allegedly set to clear land Flames of destruction: Smoke rises up from burning peatland in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Feb. 1. This is one of 73 detected hotspots causing haze in Sumatra. The haze is an annual problem in Indonesia caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland areas to clear land for palm oil or pulpwood plantations. (AFP/Wahyudi)

As authorities in Riau crack down on illegal logging and slash-and-burn practices, two residents have been arrested in separate locations after reportedly being caught red-handed clearing land for oil palm plantations.

A resident of Kepenuhan Baru village identified as S. was arrested by Rokan Hulu Police and Kepenuhan Police personnel for allegedly setting fire in the village of Sei Air Hitam in Central Kepenuhan last Friday.

“The arrest of the suspect began with hotspot information released by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). After coordinating with Kepenuhan Police, we searched the fire spot using coordinates from satellite data,” Rokan Hulu Police criminal investigation division head Adj.Comr. Harry Avianto said on Tuesday.

Police later apprehended the suspect, who was hiding in a hut not far from the burned land. He is currently detained by Rokan Hulu Police for questioning.

(Read also: Riau ups wildfire alert status)

In Pelalawan regency, a joint team for peatland and forest fire prevention comprised of police and military personnel, Environment and Forestry Ministry officials and rangers of the Tesso Nilo National Park detected illegal logging in a conservation area on Sunday.

“The team confiscated an excavator. The 28-year-old operator of the equipment, identified as LH, a resident of Air Molek in Indragiri Hulu regency, was straightaway taken into custody, because the excavator had entered the national park without permit,” said Pelalawan Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Kaswandi. (ebf)