Malaysian planters in Indonesia not involved in burning, say investors (VIDEO)

JAKARTA, Sept 27 — The regions of Pontianak in Kalimantan and Pekanbaru in Sumatra, Indonesia, are still recording dangerous levels of Air Pollutant Index (API) readings, and some areas in the regions are now covered in thick haze.

According to the website of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Body (BMKG), Pontianak recorded an API of up to 900 as of this afternoon, while Pekanbaru recorded an API of 600 this morning, and 450-500 in the afternoon.

The API in Palembang, in Sumatra, also showed some instability when it reached 600 in the morning, and as of 3pm, readings have reached very unhealthy levels of 250 to 300.

Local newspaper Tribunenews reported that flights by nine commercial airlines at the Tjilik Riwut Palangkaraya Airport in Central Kalimantan were cancelled yesterday, due to a visibility range of only 50m.

President Joko Widodo, who went down to survey the forest fires in Kalimantan, directed the authorities to revoke the licences of some companies found to be involved in open burning.

He said there was only one method to control the forest fires in Indonesia, which was to ban open burning.

A firefighter from the local disaster management agency mopping up at a peatland fire in a palm oil plantation in Pelalawan, Riau province, in Sumatra. — Reuters/Antara Foto pic
A firefighter from the local disaster management agency mopping up at a peatland fire in a palm oil plantation in Pelalawan, Riau province, in Sumatra. — Reuters/Antara Foto pic

The Association of Plantation Investors of Malaysia in Indonesia (APIMI) supported Widodo’s call, as burning fields contravened the rules of estate operations.

APIMI chief representative Nor Hazlan Abdul Mutalib said APIMI could guarantee that none of the Malaysian plantation companies operating in Indonesia were involved in the burning of fields and forests in the country.

He said the forests in Sumatra still produced thick smoke even though the fire had been put out, as they were peatlands.

He said peatland fires occurred up to several metres into the ground, and because of that, the smoke was still coming out of the ground, causing haze which has spread to Malaysia and Singapore.

The haze has worsened in Malaysia and Singapore, affecting daily activities in both countries, and the governments were forced to temporarily close some schools, beginning tomorrow. — Bernama