Saturday, September 26, 2015

Singapore moves against Indonesian companies for yearly burning of forests and plantations, smoke caused Singapore to close schools-AFP, Reuters

9/26/15, "Singapore moves against Indonesian firms over haze," AFP, Singapore

"Singapore has launched legal action that could lead to massive fines against Indonesian companies blamed for farm and plantation fires spewing unhealthy levels of air pollution over the city-state.
and persisted for years. 

APP, part of Indonesia's Sinar Mas conglomerate, is one of the world's largest pulp and paper groups and publicly upholds "sustainability" and forest conservation as core principles. Its products include stationery and toilet paper.

APP was asked by Singapore's National Environment Agency to supply information on its subsidiaries operating in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as measures taken by its suppliers in Indonesia to put out fires in their concessions.

The group, which has paper mills in Indonesia and China, did not immediately reply when asked by AFP for comment."...

Image caption: "A soldier inspects a peatland forest on fire in Kampar district, Riau province, on Indonesia's Sumatra island, on August 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Alfachrozie)"


9/25/15, "Singapore presses Asia Pulp and Paper for information on forest fires," Reuters

"Singapore has called on Asia Pulp and Paper Co Ltd (APP) to check whether its subsidiaries and suppliers have any connection with the recent forest fires in Indonesia, which have caused a thick smog to envelop the city state.

Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) also said in a statement that it has separately sent notices to four other Indonesian companies, accusing them of contributing to the pollution.

Unlisted APP, a member of Indonesia's Sinar Mas group, is a major supplier of paper, pulp and packaging in Asia.

A spokeswoman for APP in Jakarta said it has not received a notice from Singapore to date.

The announcement came after Singapore shut primary and secondary schools on Friday as worsening pollution caused air the quality to deteriorate to what the authorities said were very unhealthy levels.

Southeast Asia has suffered for years from annual bouts of smog caused by slash-and-burn practices in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan islands, but governments in the region have failed to address the problem.

The fires have been exacerbated this year by the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon, as a prolonged dry season in Indonesia has parched the top soil, fuelling the flames.

NEA said the government is currently examining how to apply more economic pressure against errant companies.

"Ultimately, errant companies must know that there is a price to be paid for damaging our health, environment and economy," the statement quoted Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan as saying.

Singapore passed a cross-border air pollution law last year that makes those who cause haze both criminally and civilly liable."

"(Reporting by Saeed Azhar, with additional reporting by Nicholas Owen in Jakarta; Editing by Greg Mahlich)"


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