Sime Darby and 2 other companies rebut haze claims
Three companies -- Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL), Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), and Sime Darby -- have issued rebuttals after being named by Indonesia's Senior Presidential Aide Kuntoro Mangkusubroto as being among several responsible for fire hotspots in Riau Province.
In a statement released to the media, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) said Indonesia's accusation requires verification.
"They do not correspond with intensive monitoring on-the-ground conducted by APRIL in its own concessions over the past several weeks nor with information on Friday from Indonesia's official national body for Meteorology, Climate and Geophysiccs, which identified 13 hotspots in Riau, none of which are on APRIL's concessions," APRIL said in a statement.
The company said the Director General of the Ministry of Forestry, Bambang Hendroyono, had confirmed Friday the fires causing the haze were mostly occurring on community land, not forestry concessions.
APRIL said it had maintained a "strict no-burn policy in its concessions" since it began operations in 1994, reported CNA.
It added the small number of fires within its concessions over the past three weeks were spread from those that began outside its concessions and were extinguished by its fire fighting teams.
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) also said it does not practise, and "highly condemns" the slash and burn activity for its detrimental impact on the environment.
The company said it is deeply concerned about the forest fires and resulting haze in Riau, Sumatra, and is urging others to support it in implementing "zero burning and zero deforestation practices".
APP said its fire fighting crews and community members have been working to control the fires in its suppliers' concessions.
"The task is very complex because of the combination between strong wind, high temperature and the fact that the fire has reached peat land," APP said in its statement.
APP added that it welcomes opportunities to work with NGOs, companies, communities and governments to address the haze problem.
Malaysian plantation giant Sime Darby, which runs PT Tunggal Mitra, has also denied reports of any fires on its property.
Sime Darby Plantation said there were no fires in any of its operating areas in Indonesia, and that it strictly adheres to a zero burning policy in its operations.
Tunggal Mitra Plantation covers almost 14-thousand hectares, the majority of which is used for planting and development.
Sime Darby said there are some parts occupied by local communities, and that it is unable to exert control over those areas. - June 24, 2013.