JAKARTA, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Indonesian government said it's working hard to put out the fires that people and companies have set to clear the land and neighboring countries should be more sympathetic.
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said her country "respects the complaints from neighboring countries" over smoke from the numerous fires, but "All outsiders should withhold unnecessary comments but see the efforts which are systematically and seriously being carried out by the government of Indonesia," she said in a statement.
Bakar said her ministry, along with law enforcement have cut the number of fires deliberately set by around 75 per cent from last year. Approximately 8,247 fires were started between January and August of 2015, while this year has seen 2,356.
Fire fighters were tireless in their efforts to put out fires around the country and those found violating the law by clearing land through fires are being prosecuted.
About 40 companies are currently the targets of either administrative sanctions or civil lawsuits over fires from 2015.
"Currently, the Ministry for the Environment and Forestry has enforced a temporary moratorium on forest management permits, palm plantations and management of peatlands," Bakar said. "This is one step to evaluate, and at the same time fix the management of natural resources by taking into account environmental factors."