Indonesia punishes 23 companies for causing forest fires

The World Bank estimates that Indonesia's economy has lost $16 billion due to the fires, which have been started to make room for pulp and palm oil plantations.

AP/File
This undated aerial image shows an area affected by forest fire in Riau province, Indonesia.

Indonesian government has punished 23 companies for causing forest fires that spread thick, smoky haze around Southeast Asia, an official said Tuesday.

The Forestry Ministry's investigations director, Brotestes Panjaitan, said that 33 more companies are under scrutiny and waiting for decisions on possible punishment.

Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya announced Monday that a total of 56 companies were involved in the land-clearing activities that led to the fires.

She added 23 of them, mostly pulp wood and palm oil plantations operating on Sumatra and Borneo islands, have received punishments ranging from administrative sanctions to revocation of licenses.

Three companies shut down as their licenses were revoked, Ms. Nurbaya said, while the licenses of 16 were suspended and four companies were placed under close observation.

"We do not hesitate to take stern legal actions against companies found violating the law," said Mr. Panjaitan. "We are now considering the kinds of sentences for the remaining 33 companies."

Forest fires have been an annual problem in Indonesia since the mid-1990s, but this year's was the worst since 1997 when blazes spread across nearly 10 million hectares.

The fires have created an ecological disaster, health problems and economic losses – 2.1 million hectares (8,063 square miles) of land burned, 21 deaths, and more than half a million people suffering respiratory problems.

The World Bank has estimated that Indonesia's economy has lost $16 billion due to the fires, more than double what was spent on rebuilding Aceh province after the 2004 tsunami.

National police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said police were processing 301 cases of forest fires set by individuals and corporations, with three of them having been handed to the Attorney General's Office for further legal proceedings.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Indonesia punishes 23 companies for causing forest fires
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2015/1222/Indonesia-punishes-23-companies-for-causing-forest-fires
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe