Demanding State and Corporate Responsibility for Forest Burners Against Smog Victims and the Environment

Demanding State and Corporate Responsibility for Forest Burners Against Smog Victims and the Environment

[Jakarta, 19 September 2019] Forest and land fire disasters have again hit Indonesia. Haze appears to have filled the island of Kalimantan and southern Sumatra. Now, Indonesia does not only have two seasons. There is one new season that emerged since mid-1997, the smoke season. The government seems to have tried many things to avoid the haze disaster. However, the disaster continues to recur. This raises many public questions, is it true that the Government has seriously worked? Or just imaging alone.

Along with the recurrence of the smoke season, palm stands have spread to remote areas like cancer in the human body. Gnawing on people’s management areas, inhabiting former burnt lands that might have been deliberately burned. Thousands of people are forced to breathe toxic air from burning land. No less than 16,000 residents of Riau and 8,000 residents of West Kalimantan have been stricken with ARI (acute respiratory infection). A total of 48 companies with concession licenses and 1 private land have been sealed. Related to the sealing, the area of burned land reached 8,931 ha.

Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch expressed her concern and condemned companies that had burned forests and land to seek large profits. “The community has suffered greatly from the haze that has occurred for several weeks. The impact caused by smoke is already very worrying and cannot be considered as a matter of course. Moreover, they regularly experience smog exposure every year. It is not impossible to have a long-term impact on the health of the human body, it might even have a negative genetic developmental impact, “explained Inda.

Zidane, Sawit Watch’s labor specialist even conveyed the fact that plantation workers continue to work as usual. In fact, they are the people who are closest to the smoke. “How to harvest the fruit, it is not possible to distinguish the color of the fruit because the smoke exposure disturbs the viewers’ harvest,” said Zidane. Workers who work in smoke situations claim that their eyes are sore, breathing is disturbed, and they get tired quickly. But they still work. “In the haze condition, there is nothing that can be done to protect the workers other than they are kept away from locations exposed to smoke,” explained Zidane.

One of the interesting things that was also found by Sawit Watch was the presence of several oil palm plantations which were on fire, despite being RSPO and ISPO certified. The company is spread in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.

Hadi Jatmiko from the Indonesia-South Sumatra Green Circle emphasized that, “Repeated forest and land fires this year are indicators of the government’s failure to manage forests and land, particularly in South Sumatra. If only in the aftermath of the 2015 severe fires, the government would immediately enforce strict laws and review permits (revoke permits), return rights and manage forests and burning land to the people, so the ecological disaster in the form of toxic fumes that create state losses and threaten the safety of thousands of people will not be repeated. The government must not repeat this error again. Law enforcement must be firmly carried out targeting companies that have become recidivists for environmental and humanitarian criminals, “

In line with Hadi, Tiara Yasinta, JPIK Researcher explained that the initiative to save forests and peatlands initiated by the government is still carried out partially, so it cannot resolve the bad governance problems that occur at this time. The case of forest and land fires in Indonesia is a structural problem in natural resource management that can only be solved by reforming policy, legal and institutional schemes. “Fires in a number of concessions are clear evidence of the failure of management by the corporation as the permit holder. Sanctions must be given a deterrent effect so that the same violations will not be repeated in the future, “said Tiara.

Eko from Linkar Borneo linked the smoke disaster with the government’s mandate to Pertamina regarding Biofuel B20-B50. “With the occurrence of forest and land fires, the government and Pertamina must have the courage to ensure that companies that are indicated to have committed environmental crimes and have a social impact have been dropped from the list of suppliers. The government must conduct a comprehensive environmental review and audit of oil palm corporations, especially those that are suppliers of Pertamina. The government must also urge companies to take responsibility for the recovery of burnt areas and the restoration of public health around concessions that are burning in full and in a sustainable manner, “Eko explained. Eko also gave warnings to financial institutions to be careful in giving loans to corporations. “Banks that provide loans must ensure that loans do not violate NDPE policies and violate human rights. Do not let the customer’s funds exposed to smoke reach the company indicated and the suspect has set a forest and land arson, “said Eko.

Among PADI Indonesia reminded the country to enforce the law on land-burning corporations. “Basically enforce the law. Do not just small people who are oppressed. Corporations and individuals behind the burning must be taken firm action. Don’t accuse the customary law community of burning the fields for agriculture. When blaming and forbidding them, it means that one more cultural root is lost and eliminated in this country. ” Clearly Among.

Departing from this, the civil society coalition believes that the smoke caused by forest and land fires is not an ordinary thing but an extraordinary event and the government must take full responsibility for this problem. Therefore, we demand that the government:

  1. The government bears all costs for the care of people affected by forest and land fires, including the costs of routine post-fire recovery and inspection.
  2. Strict action on all actors of forest and land burning by revoking business licenses that have been granted without exception.
  3. The government must immediately improve forest and land governance by reviewing permits, law enforcement, and strict sanctions for corporations.
  4. The corporation is obliged to ensure the safety and health of workers in smoke situations.
  5. The government makes long-term policy regulations, so that the existing fire prevention is not only focused on the technical prevention and suppression of fire.
  6. The government must involve local / indigenous communities in the entire process of forest and land management so that the fire problem is resolved permanently.
  7. The government and Pertamina must have the courage to ensure that companies that are indicated to have committed environmental crimes and have a social impact are dropped from the list of bio fuel suppliers.
  8. Financial institutions (banks) that provide funds to forest and land-burning corporations must be responsible for public funds (including smoke-exposed clients) that they manage (stored) and which they distribute to the corporation.
  9. The government apologizes to indigenous and tribal peoples for alleged land burning.
  10. The Financial Services Authority (OJK) must release data on financial institutions that finance corporations that are indicated and proven to burn forests and land.

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Contact person:
Inda_Sawit Watch (0811 448 677)
Zidane_Sawit Watch (0858 4652 9850)
Hadi Jatmiko_Lingkar Hijau Indonesia-South Sumatra (0813 1006 8838)
Eko_Link-AR Borneo (0812 5468 3793)
Among_PADI Indonesia (0812 5326 204)
Tiara Yasinta_JPIK (0812 1637 6900)