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Indonesia land-burning fines unpaid years after disastrous fires | Indonesia News

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Indonesian plantation companies fined for burning huge areas of land since 2009 have failed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties meant to hold them accountable for actions that took a devastating environmental and human toll.

The palm oil and pulp wood companies involved in fires owe more than $220m in fines and the figure for unpaid penalties for environmental destruction swells to $1.3bn when an illegal logging case from 2013 is included, according to separate summaries of the cases compiled by Greenpeace and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Indonesia‘s annual dry season fires were particularly disastrous in 2015, burning 2.6 million hectares of land and spreading health-damaging haze across Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand and Malaysia.

The World Bank estimated the fires cost Indonesia $16bn and a Harvard and Columbia study estimated the haze hastened 100,000 deaths in the region.

President Joko Widodo and other senior officials vowed action but repeated legal appeals by the 10 companies taken to court by the environment ministry have dragged the cases out for years.





Thick haze from forest fires shroud Palangkaraya in central Borneo in October 2015 [File: AP Photos]

The ministry has issued statements trumpeted progress in sanctioning companies involved in land fires. But the two companies mentioned in those statements that have paid fines totaling $2m involved environmental damage from open cast mining, not fires, the ministry’s law enforcement director-general, Rasio Ridho Sani, told The Associated Press.

Greenpeace Indonesia said the unpaid fines are money owed to the Indonesian people that could pay for large-scale forest restoration and for health and emergency infrastructure for when the fires strike again.

“By not enforcing these laws the government is sending a dangerous message: company profit comes before law, clean air, health and forest protection,” forests campaigner Arie Rompas said in a statement on Friday.

In a case that cited fires between 2009 and 2012, palm oil company Kallista Alam appealed its 336bn rupiah ($24m) fine all the way to the Supreme Court and then sought a judicial review of the Supreme Court decision against it.






Indonesia fires spark anger against government

Fires intentionally set by the company in 2012 to clear land for palm oil tore through the Tripa peat swamp in Aceh on the island of Sumatra, killing wildlife including endangered Sumatran orangutans and blanketed surrounding areas in a thick haze.

Tripa is part of the 2.6 million-hectare Leuser national park, which is that last place on earth where endangered Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos share the same wild environment.

When the Supreme Court rejected Kallista Alam’s judicial review, the company appeared to have exhausted all its legal options.

But it avoided payment by getting a legal protection order last year from the Meulaboh district court in Aceh which is responsible for enforcing the fine, according to a ministry document that details the court’s numerous instances of apparent non-cooperation in the case. The ministry said it has appealed the order to the Supreme Court.

Activists who said they’d gathered 200,000 signatures on a petition against Kallista Alam, protested outside the Meulaboh court in January, media in Aceh reported. Kallista Alam could not be a contacted. The phone number listed for it in an online companies database is inactive.






101 East: Indonesia: Where There’s Smoke (25:31)

Sani, the environment ministry official, said in seven cases enforcement of fines is held up because the local courts responsible for enforcement and the companies involved haven’t received copies of final rulings.

“The Ministry of Environment and Forestry is consistent in making efforts in environmental law enforcement, including forest and land fires, by filing lawsuits in civil, criminal and administrative courts,” he said.

In a case from 2014, the ministry sought a 7.8 trillion rupiah ($553m) fine for fires on 20,000 hectares of land controlled by Bumi Mekar Hijau, a pulp wood company that is part of Indonesia’s Sinarmas conglomerate.

A provincial court in 2016 imposed a far smaller than demanded fine of 78 billion ($5.5 million) but it remains unpaid.

A spokeswoman for the Asia Pulp & Paper arm of Sinarmas, owned by one of Asia’s richest families, said a director dealing with the case was on sick leave and could not immediately respond.

“As citizens, if we don’t pay our taxes we get sent to prison,” said Rompas, the Greenpeace campaigner.

“So why aren’t the owners of these big companies being forced to pay what they owe or sent to prison if they don’t pay?”

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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