Palm oil and Sukanto Tanoto companies behind Singapore haze

Fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra, which have cloaked Singapore in record-breaking haze, are raging on palm oil plantations owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies, environmental activist group Greenpeace International said Saturday.

“NASA hotspot data in Sumatra over the past 10 days (June 11-21) has revealed hundreds of fire hotspots in palm oil concessions that are owned by Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean companies,” the group said in a statement received by AFP.

Singapore’s PSI index hit the critical 400 level on Friday, making it potentially life-threatening to the ill and elderly, a government monitoring site said. On Saturday morning, the reading was at 323, still in the “hazardous” zone.

Parts of Malaysia close to Singapore have also been severely affected by the haze this week.

“Fires across Sumatra are wreaking havoc for millions of people in the region and destroying the climate. Palm oil producers must immediately deploy fire crews to extinguish these fires. But really cleaning up their act starts with adopting a zero deforestation policy,” said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace Indonesia’s forest campaign.

The Indonesian environment minister Balthasar Kambuaya said Friday that a team has investigated eight companies suspected to be behind the fires and promised to reveal the companies’ names after the probe.

A senior presidential aide Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said Friday that the fires happened in concession areas belonging to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL).

“It is very clear that the fires are in APP concessions and APRIL. We need to settle this matter,” he told reporters while showing the distribution of fires from 1 to 18 June in concession areas in Riau.

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