Plantation company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) has confirmed that there was a forest fire in one of its estates in Riau, Indonesia. It said that an occurrence of a hotspot area affected 2.8ha in the 14,400ha estate managed by its subsidiary PT Adei Plantation and Industry.
The plantation company also confirmed that 4.25ha of the estate, including an isolation area, has been sealed off for investigations by the Indonesian authorities. “The hotspot occurred during an unusually acute dry spell where rain was recorded on only two out of the last 60 days.
“It was successfully extinguished within the same day through the efforts of our own 120 firefighting personnel, aided by 11 excavators and Shibaura (portable fire-fighting water) pumps,” KLK said yesterday.
Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had said that a plot of land belonging to PT Adei at the Pelalawan Regency in Riau was sealed off on Wednesday.
She also said her team is compiling data of other Malaysian and Singaporean companies whose lands are also on fire. KLK said PT Adei will continue to give full support to the ministry in the investigation.
“PT Adei is a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) certified company and complies with the strict requirements of these certification bodies, which includes no burning,” KLK said.
This is not the first time PT Adei ran into trouble with the authorities over forest fires. In 2014, PT Adei was fined 1.5 billion rupiah (RM404,814) while the firm’s general manager, a Malaysian, was sentenced to a year’s jail for causing forest fires in Indonesia which led to severe haze in Malaysia and Singapore. He was also fined two billion rupiah (RM539,507.36).
On Friday, Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) and IOI Corporation Bhd disputed foreign news reports claiming that the Indonesian government had sealed off their Indonesian subsidiaries’ land over alleged fires amid a regional haze problem.
In a statement, SDP said the Sept 3 fires occurred outside the operational area of PT Sime Indo Agro (PT Sia), which is part of Minamas Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SDP in Indonesia. “The recent fire incident was outside of the operational area of PT SIA and in fact, is located in lands occupied by local communities,” it added.
Siti Nurbaya has alleged that at least four palm oil companies whose land had been sealed off were subsidiaries of Malaysian groups. They were West Kalimantan-based Sime Indo Agro, which is a unit of Sime Darby Plantation, and Sukses Karya Sawit, a unit of IOI Corp. Others are TDM Bhd unit Rafi Kamajaya Abadi and Riau-based Adei Plantation and Industry, a unit of KLK.
Separately, IOI has refuted the accusation levelled against the company by the Indonesia authorities. The Malaysian company reportedly has put in place a surveillance system and dedicated resources to put out fires with its boundaries. Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has said that she was concerned over the sealing off of land belonging to the subsidiaries of the four companies.
She said that the Indonesian authorities’ claim on the matter was a “serious accusation” as the companies were among the most respected oil palm cultivators. She added that she would talk with her Indonesian counterpart to resolve the matter quickly and amicably.