Tara Marchelin, Jakarta – The National Police said on Wednesday a total of 64 forest and wildland fires have been reported since January. The wildfires have destroyed more than 260 hectares of forest and wildland in several provinces.
"The data we have are from Jan. 1 to June 21. A total of 63 fires involved individual perpetrators and one involved a corporation as the perpetrator. The fires destroyed 261.5 hectares of forest and wildland," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Awi Setiyono said on Wednesday.
The police have charged 69 suspects in the cases that involved individual perpetrators. No suspect has been declared in the case where a corporation is thought to be the culprit.
Awi said 23 cases are being investigated – one still in the initial stage – and 43 are already in the settlement stage.
Regional police have been heavily involved in investigating the fires, according to Awi.
Riau Police have already investigated 51 cases, including one that involved a corporation.
"Riau province bore the brunt of the fires, with 242.2 hectares of forest and wildland already being destroyed," Awi said in an online press conference.
Jambi Police meanwhile have investigated two fires that have destroyed 0.32 hectares of forest and wildland.
Central Borneo Police are investigating eight fires that have destroyed 11.5 hectares of land. They have charged seven individuals.
"Bangka Belitung Islands Police are investigating two cases where 5.5 hectares of forest and wildland have been destroyed," Awi said.
In Aceh, the regional police are investigating a fire that has destroyed two hectares of wildland.
"The National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit [Bareskrim] has not received any new case in 2020. It's still investigating two forest and wildland fires from 2019 that involved corporate perpetrators," Awi said.
Perpetrators of forest and wildland fires are typically chared with article 187 and article 188 of the Criminal Code (KUHP), article 98, article 99 and article 108 of the 2009 Environmental Law and article 108 of the 2014 Plantation Law.
Awi said the public should be more wary of forest and wildland fires as Indonesia enters what is expected to be a long dry season.
"According to the Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the dry season had actually started since mid-April," he said.