Kuala Lumpur, 14 June 2013 - Sime Darby Plantation would like to categorically state that there are no fires in any of its operating areas in Indonesia.
There have been no land clearing activities in the operating areas managed by PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation (PT TMP) and PT Bhumireksa Nusa Sejati (PT BNS) in Riau since April 2013. It should be further noted that the replanting of palm trees occurs only once every 20-25 years and not annually.
Sime Darby Plantation strictly practises a zero burning policy throughout its operations. This policy has been in place since 1985. However, both PT TMP and PT BNS are in areas where there are local communities and smallholders occupying parts of the concession area. In accordance with Indonesian regulations protecting the rights of local communities, PT TMP and PT BNS are unable to control activities in its concession areas that are occupied by others. These local communities who occupy the land plant cash crops as well as oil palm. Indonesian regulations allow these communities to cultivate and use the land as they see fit, without the company's consent, agreement or knowledge. Additionally, during extremely dry weather, fires can be caused accidentally and through natural causes as well.
The management of PT TMP and PT BNS and all the estate managers in Indonesia are extremely vigilant of the possibility of fires especially when the dry season approaches. The companies' fire prevention teams have been trained and on alert since the second week of June. They monitor the situation with the use of global positioning systems on a daily basis and cooperate with local authorities where required. They have also lodged 5 reports of fire incidences outside the estates to the local authorities since 19 June.
Once hotspots are detected, these fire prevention teams are despatched to check on the identified sites and to verify the accuracy of the satellite reports. This is crucial as there is a marked difference between satellite reports and the actual situation on the ground. Over the last few weeks in PT BNS, 11 teams have been monitoring hotspots from fire towers as high as 15 metres, which are erected in strategic locations within its estates. If fires are spotted, the fire prevention teams will report to the authorities and work with them to ensure any hazards are managed appropriately and urgently.
Sime Darby Plantation and its companies will continue to collaborate with local authorities to manage any hotspots and fires as they are not only polluting the environment, they present serious hazards to all its workers and operations, as well as the general public.