JAKARTA: Indonesia will take stern action against firms that are found to have caused forest fires in the country, Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar warned on Wednesday (Jan 25).
She was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara that there will be “no mercy” for those who are caught.
“If forest fires happen because of (the activities of) the private sector, there will be no mercy (for the firms),” Ms Siti said at a press conference.
She added that firms will be “immediately given a warning” once a fire hotspot has been identified on their land.
“As soon as a hotspot is detected (in the area owned by them), we will immediately give a warning (to them),” she was quoted as saying by Antara.
The country’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin also called on firms that deal with forest management to help in handling the forest fires.
“If (a disaster) happens, the consequences or losses that arise will also befall the companies,” Mr Mahfud reportedly said.
Antara on Wednesday also reported that the Indonesian government has been taking firm action against the perpetrators of forest and land destruction in the country.
It cited a recent lawsuit the government won against PT Agri Bumi Sentosa in which 1,500 hectares of land was damaged in South Kalimantan in 2019.
The company was required to pay material compensation of 160.69 billion rupiah (US$10.7 million) and environmental restoration costs of 591.55 billion rupiah.
During the 2019 Southeast Asian haze, thousands of fires were started in Indonesia in order to clear land for crops. Media reports then stated that some 900,000 Indonesians reported suffering from acute respiratory infections as a result of the haze in the first nine months of that year alone.