Environmental group says 2,087 hotspots on company concession land

CNN Indonesia – August 1, 2019
Motorists drive through haze from forest fires (Antara)
Motorists drive through haze from forest fires (Antara)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) says that 2,087 out of 4,258 hotspots recroded between January and July were located on concession land. Concession land is land for which the government has given land use rights or permits to companies or other agencies.

“4,258 hotspots were recorded nationally between January and July 2019, 2,087 of which are in concession areas and KHG [Peatland Hydrological Unit, peatland areas]”, said Walhi Food, Water and Essential Ecosystems Campaign Manager Wahyu A Perdana at the Walhi offices in South Jakarta on Thursday August 1.

Out of these concession areas, continue Perdana, 613 companies were operating on KHGs.

The Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture (PMK) earlier declared eight regions as emergency alert forest and land fires (Karhutla). The emergency alert status was declared because of the threat of drought and the medium- to high-level fire risk in the areas in 2019.

Walhi Legal Studies Director Boy Even Sembiring said that the government must take a firm position and conduct a review of the fires on land concession areas. He also called on the government to revoke the concession permits on land that has been repeatedly burnt.

This is because, according to Sembiring, the issued permits are not in accordance with the land criteria.

“They’re in peatland ecosystems, and second they’re in special ecosystems which are prone to ecological disasters”, said Sembiring at the Walhi offices. “The government should conduct a review. Are they in accordance or not with the issued permits according to their criteria”, he explained.

Sambiring said that up until now law enforcement against these inappropriate permits has only used a compromise approach. So it does not resulted in strong sanctions and a deterrent effect against negligent permit holders, including also private companies which hold permits.

Sambiring also said that the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (LHK) along with the National Land Agency has the authority to review these permits.

“Regional governments as the ones issuing the permits are incapable of properly monitoring or controlling the use of permits, this can be taken over by the ministries. Now if the LHK has a key role [in this] which is actually the same as the National Land Agency”, he explained. (ani/gil)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Walhi: 2.087 Titik Panas Ada di Lahan Konsesi Perusahaan”.]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190801200028-20-417563/walhi-2087-titik-panas-ada-di-lahan-konsesi-perusahaan