Urge the Government to Act Immediately to Resolve the Root Cause and Addressing the Impact of Forest and Land Fires

Statement of Solidaritas Perempuan Mamut Menteng Central Kalimantan

Solidaritas Perempuan Mamut Menteng Central Kalimantan urging the government to act immediately to resolve the root causes and address the impacts of forest and land fires in Central Kalimantan. At this moment, forest and land fires are re-occurring in Central Kalimantan and based on air visual monitoring, the air quality index in Palangka Raya as of August 6, 2019 has reached 316 with an increasing number of dangerous pollutants. This figure is included in the category of peak level (hazardous) of the most dangerous air quality. Such conditions increase the risk of disease for the community, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups. Data from the polyclinic of Doris Sylvanus Regional Hospital, said that there are 137 outpatients and 98 inpatients due to acute respiratory infections (ARI). In addition to ISPA which claimed many lives, community activities were also disrupted by the presence of smog. The Governor of Central Kalimantan, Sugianto Sabran, has responded to this situation by issuing Circular Letter Number 623 / DLH / 2019 which contains an advice to the community in anticipation of the effects of haze in the province of Central Kalimantan. In the Letter, the Governor acknowledged that the air pollutant standard index was in the unhealthy and human-harmful category. However, the steps mentioned only target community behavior without mentioning concrete and significant steps to resolve the root causes and address the effects of forest and land fires.

Forest and land fire disasters has never been taken seriously by the central nor provincial governments. The Government tends to see this disaster, as a routine disaster, without seriously looking for and solving the root cause of the problem. This land fire was allegedly caused by the deliberate burning initiate by palm oil companies. Although there have been several company names that were allegedly initiate the fire that caused the burning land, but at this time there has been no significant action from the government to thoroughly investigate the perpetrators of land burning. In addition to that, the government still issues palm oil permits. Currently, around 1.6 million hectares of palm oil plantations in Central Kalimantan are controlled by 183 companies that contribute to peatland degradation, so that the natural “sponge” function of peat is lost. Water-hungry palm makes peat dry and flammable. Evidenced by the hotspots many found in plantation concessions not on community land. Palm oil which identifiy as plant that voracious to water has made the peatland dry and combustible. Evidences showed that many of the hotspot were found within the plantation concession and not on community land.[1]

The impact of forest fires in Indonesia that occurred in 2015 which has claimed many victims, especially women and children should be an important lesson for the state. Those forest fires event had caused haze not only in Central Kalimantan, but in several regions in Indonesia, namely South Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, West Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan. Haze also spread to a number of areas around the 6 provinces. At least 25.6 million people are exposed to smoke, which is 22.6 million in Sumatra and 3 million in Kalimantan[2]. At that time, the forest fires that occurred did not get a serious response from the government, causing severe casualties. Victims suffering from ARI reached 66,234 people, followed by skin infections 4,857 people, then eye infections 3,693 people, asthma, 3,073 people and Pneumonia 1,076 people. In addition, these forest fires have also burned down residents’ lands, causing communities, especially women, to lose their livelihoods.

These has led to a number of people filed a Citizen’s Lawsuit for forest and land fires that occurred in Central Kalimantan in 2015, with President Jokowi, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Agrarian and Spatial Planning, Minister of Health, Central Kalimantan Governor and Central Kalimantan Parliamentary as Defendants. At the District Court level, the judge decided that the Defendants had committed acts against the law which resulted in violation of people’s rights. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court after the appeal filed by the President etc was rejected on 16 July 2019.

Unfortunately, the court’s decision has not moved the government to take serious action to prevent or overcome the forest fires. This has caused forest fires to continue to this day. To prevent casualties caused by forest fires as happened in 2015 and to address the recently event, Solidaritas Perempuan Mamut Menteng Central Kalimantan demanding the Government to:

  1. Immediately take concrete steps to deal with forest and land fires, and the impacts that emerge include haze.
  2. Sending medical personnel and supply to remote areas after the event of forest and land fires, to treat and recover victims, especially women and children, as well conducting temporary evacuation as needed to a more safe place.
  3. Conduct an investigation to thoroughly investigate the company that is suspected of setting fire to the forests.
  4. Stop the new permits of large-scale oil palm companies.
  5. Restoring the economic community, women and men whose land was burned.
  6. Execute court decisions that have permanent legal force over cases of 2015 Citizens’ Lawsuit on Forest and Land Fires.

Palangkaraya, August 13, 2019

Winda Febiana
Chair of Community Executive Body
Solidaritas Perempuan Mamut Menteng – (Central Kalimantan)
Contact: +62 812 5311 0627, winda.febiana@gmail.com


[1] Data of WALHI, Juli 2019
2 Print.kompas.com/baca/2015/09/05/Kabut-Asap-Sudah-Darurat” http://print.kompas.com/baca/2015/09/05/Kabut-Asap-Sudah-Darurat
[3] http://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2015/10/21/206711729/korban-kabut-asap-riau-sudah-78-ribu-orang)

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