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  Antara 30 Aug 06
Indonesian govt to confiscate land of forest fire culprits

Batam, (ANTARA News) - Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said he would soon issue a new ruling authorizing security officers to confiscate the land of those responsible for forest and land fires besides taking them to court.

"The ruling will clearly regulate not only the arrest of the perpetrators but also the confiscation of their land and they will not be allowed to cultivate it again," Witoelar said here on Tuesday (8/29).

He said the government had for the time being revoked the licenses of several companies, among others, PT Torganda and Jatim Jaya Perkasa. "I don`t care who they are, I will take stern actions against them," the minister said in response to the move he was taking in response to the current widespread forest fires in the country.

Forest fires are now taking place in at least five provinces, namely Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. The minister`s office has handed over several forest fire cases to the police. They were named during the ministry`s forest fire prevention operations in the past several months.

The minister said his office had also confiscated thousands of hectares of burned land owned by several companies. "The handing over of the cases to police is proof of the office of the Environment Minister`s stern actions against the culprits of environmental damage," the minister added.(*)

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