Issues on land and forest fires as well smoke disaster in Sumatera and Kalimantan have enlivened headline news for the last several months. Each year, the news related to issues on land and forest fires never ends. The news raised during dry season with intentional purpose and negligence of certain holders are written, then the news will calm down during rainy season. The same patter will repeat each and every year. It seems never ending vicious circle and without real solution to break the circle. Perhaps for central government, this situation is merely a regular disaster, but it is not for people who inhale the smoke each year. It influences the environment and health for the people and it disturbs their daily activity without knowing when and how they can end this annual suffering.
Forest and land fires actually are part of Indonesian history. Forest and land fire with huge scale started in 1982/1983 in area of East Kalimantan. Land fire with width of 3.6 million hectare happened since there was changes of vegetation as an impact of illegal logging. Forest and land fires did not stop on that year. In 1997/1998, the biggest fire happened in the Indonesian history. The fire burnt in almost 10 million hectare of land in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java and Papua. Since 1997/1998, forest and land fires as well haze have become headline news almost each year. The government’s initiative to stop totally smoke disaster is merely an initiative. In reality, until 2015 no steps taken by government are proven to stop forests and land fires. The absence of firm step from the government to punish forest arsonists seriously makes the cycle of forest fires will occur continuously every year.
In fact, it is stated clearly in article 28H verse 1 of the Constitution 1945 of the Unitary State of Republic of Indonesia “Each person has the rights to live inner and outer prosperously, to have shelter, and to get good and healthy living environment as well to have health services” The Constitution 1945 clearly ensures the rights of each citizen of Indonesia to have healthy living environment and the government is obliged to guarantee those matters. However, since 1997/1998, the forest and land fires happened continuously every year and become routine agenda of Indonesian, especially people in Sumatera and Kalimatan. They are citizens of Indonesia whose rights are guaranteed by the constitution and the government is obliged to ensure the rights of its citizens are fulfilled. Nevertheless, shall this situation happen continuously and the rights of the people are violated and seized, then the government’s commitment to ensure and protect the rights of its citizens must be questioned.
The last September, team of Sawit Watch conducted its research trip about forest and/or land fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan. This research trip is aimed to verify data about hotspots in areas of Sumatera and Kalimantan. Besides, the research trip is aimed also to collect data on impact of forest and/or land fires from health and education point of views. The research was conducted in four provinces; they are Province of South Sumatera, Province of Jambi, Province of East Kalimantan and province of Riau.
Download file : Field Findings 2015