Indonesia: Satellites detect 68 hotspots on Sumatra Island

Antara 26 Aug 16;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Terra and Aqua satellites detected 68 hotspots on Sumatra Island, a sharp increase from nine on the previous day.

"Yesterday, there were only nine hotspots in Sumatra, and eight of them were in Riau Province. This morning, the number of hotspots has drastically increased to 68," Sugarin, head of the Pekanbaru meteorology office, stated here, Friday.

Of the total 68 hotspots, 67 were found in Riau Province and one in Lampung.

In Riau, 44 were detected in Rokan Hilir, 17 in Bengkalis, four in Siak, and two in Rokan Hulu District.

In the four districts, 52 hotspots were believed to have originated from wildfires, comprising 35 in Rokan Hilir, 14 in Bengkalis, two in Siak, and one in Rokan Hulu.

Personnel of the Riau forest and plantation fire task force have been making all-out efforts to extinguish the fires, including three hotspots in the border between Pekanbaru and Kampar, which were not detected by the satellites.

Two air tractors and a MI-8 helicopter were deployed to conduct water bombing activities, including in Tapung Sub-district, Kampar District, Colonel Yani Amirullah of the Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force operation remarked.

"The wildfires in Kampar and Pekanbaru must be put out immediately to prevent them from producing smoke haze that could affect flights at the Sultan Syarif Kasim International Airport," he added.(*)

Police detains 85 forest fire suspects in Riau
Antara 26 Aug 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Police Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) has detained 85 forest fire individual suspects in Riau this year.

"In addition, nine companies are being investigated for alleged involvement in forest fires," Bareskrim Chief Insp. Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto said here on Thursday.

The suspects are facing a jail term of 15 years and a fine of Rp5 billion if found guilty, the police general said.

Last year, 15 plantation and forestry companies in the list of forest fire suspects were released by police.

Police said the case against the 15 companies was dropped as there was not enough evidence found against them.

The 15 companies included PT. Parawira group, KUD Bina jaya Langgam , PT. Bukit Raya Pelalawan, PT. Bina Duta Laksana, PT. Perawang Sukses Perkasa Indah , PT. Pan United, PT. Alam Sari Lestari, PT. Riau Jaya Utama, PT. Suntara Gaja Pati, PT. Siak Timber Raya, PT. Hutani sola Lestari, PT. Dexter Rimba Perkasa, PT. Ruas Utama Jaya, PT. Sumatera Riang Lestari and PT. Rimba Lazuardi.

Some of the companies already ended their contracts before the fire broke out, police said. (*)

Police investigate 3 companies over fires in oil palm concessions
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 26 Aug 16;

The Riau Police are intensively investigating three companies for their alleged negligence in regard to fires within their concessions during the last two weeks.

The three companies, identified only by the initials PT APSL, PT DBD and PT SS, operate in the oil palm plantation sector. Two companies, APSL and DBD, operate in Rokan Hulu regency while SS operates in Rokan Hilir, where a member of the Indonesian Navy, Chief Pvt. Wahyudi, died during efforts to extinguish fires on Tuesday.

The total burned land in the three companies’ concession areas amounts to approximately 300 hectares.

The police’s special crime investigation (Reskrimsus) director Sr.Comr.Rivai Sinambela said Rokan Hulu and Rokan Hilir Police were now handling the fire cases.

“Their investigations are under way. Criminal investigation unit chiefs at the two police precincts have been instructed to work maximally. The Riau Police’s Reskrimsus has dispatched investigators to help strengthen efforts to find evidence. If their investigation achieves maximum results, the Riau Police will take over the case,” said Rivai in a press conference on Friday.

He further said the police would involve expert witnesses in evidence collection to determine whether or not the burned land was within the concession areas of the companies.

“We suspect the burned land is within the companies’ concession areas, however, our investigators cannot straightaway conclude that the areas belong to the companies,” said Rivai.

“We should have enough evidence. We [the Riau Police] don’t want the issuance of a termination of investigation [SP3] on land fire cases implicating 15 companies to happen again. That’s why the case handling and suspect naming in land and forest fires will be conducted more carefully,” said Rivai. (ebf)

Police claim more fires started by individuals
Jakarta Post 26 Aug 16;

The National Police recorded an increasing number of individuals linked to forest and land fires this year, while on the other hand they reported a decreasing number of corporations involved in the activity.

National Police’s Criminal Investigative Department (Bareskrim) announced Thursday that it has named 463 suspects in forest and land fires all across the archipelago, the majority of whom were acting as individuals.

Bareskrim head Insp. Gen. Ari Dono Sukamto told the press that 454 of the suspects were individuals while only nine were corporations. He also announced that all the individuals have been detained while the nine corporations are still under investigation.

Ari declined to elaborate on the corporations and instead emphasized that, “Everyone will be punished if proven guilty.”

The number of individuals linked to the crime is more than double last year’s 196. In contrast, the police recorded an almost two-thirds decrease in the number of corporations involved in forest and land fires this year from last years’ 25.

In the effort to solve more forest and land fires, the government has set up a team of “fire hunters” consisting of state institutions in charge of the matter. Besides the National Police, the team also consists of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Office of the Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister.

The team is tasked with searching for and reducing hot spots throughout the country and at the same time educating members of the public to protect forests and lands in their neighborhoods.

85 suspects arrested over land, forest fires since January
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 26 Aug 16;

The Riau Police’s special crime investigation director, Sr. Comr. Rivai Sinambela, said on Friday 85 suspects had been arrested for their alleged involvement in 67 land and forest fire cases in regencies and municipalities across the province.

He said the investigation dossiers of 47 land and forest fire cases had been declared "complete." An order for the termination of an investigation ( SP3 ) had been issued for one case because its suspect suffered from mental health problems, he went on.

“The suspects comprise not only workers who were ordered to clear lands with the slash-and-burn method, but also the land owners. They intentionally burned land to open plantations. The total land they burned amounts to 400 hectares,” said Rivai.

Made Ali, deputy coordinator for environmental group Riau Forest Rescue Network (Jikalahari), urged the Riau Police to revoke SP3 letters previously issued in relation to 15 companies that allegedly started land and forest fires in the province, as hot spots again sprang up in the companies' concession areas.

“Since Aug. 1 to Aug. 15, the Terra-Aqua satellite has detected 623 hot spots in Riau, 267 of which are located in concession areas of 45 oil palm plantation companies and industrial forest permit [HTI] holders,” Made said.

“Eight of the 45 companies received SP3s for land fire cases in their areas from the Riau Police.".

PT Sumatera Riang Lestari has the most hot spots with 13, followed by PT Hutani Sola Lestari and PT Suntara Gajah Pati, each with three, and PT PT Ruas Utama Jaya with two. Four companies, PT Dexter Perkasa Industri Indonesia, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Bina Duta Laksana and PT Perawang Sukses Perkasa Industri, have one hot spot each in their areas. (ebf)

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