Indonesia forst fire
Indonesian police spray water on a peatland fire in Kampar, Riau province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra September 20, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Indonesia has ordered four companies to suspend operations for allegedly causing forest fires that have sent smoke across a swathe of Southeast Asia, an environment ministry official said on Tuesday. Indonesia has launched investigations against more than 200 companies as it scrambles to bring the fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands under control by the end of November, amid complaints from neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia. Picture taken September 20, 2015. REUTERS/Regina Safri/Antara

The Indonesian government has asked four companies to immediately stop all its operations for allegedly causing the forest fires that led to the haze problem in the region. It is now planning to take legal action against PT Tempirai PAM Resources and PT Waringin Agro Jaya in south Sumatra, and PT Hutani Solarestari and PT Riau Langgam Inti Hibrido in Riau.

The Indonesian environment ministry believes that the thick smoke released by the forest fires is the reason behind the haze across the Southeast Asia. It ordered an investigation against 200 companies for causing the fires, even as thousands of troops continue to battle the forest fires across the Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

Neighbouring nations, including Malaysia and Singapore, have complained to Indonesia about the thick smoke covering Southeast Asia because of the fires. Malaysia and Singapore reportedly had to shut down its schools and ask residents to stay at home because of the unhealthy pollution levels. The complaint triggered the Indonesian government to take action against all the companies held responsible for causing the destruction to the environment.

"These suspensions will be in effect until the criminal proceedings undertaken by the police are finished," said Environment Ministry Secretary General Bambang Hendroyono in a statement.

The Indonesian government had previously taken measures to stop the seasonal slash-and-burn practice that leads to forest fires. However, the lack of coordination and the time it takes for the legal proceedings seem to have diminished all their efforts.

The suspension notice by the government came soon after the arrest of seven officials from these four companies. Mashable reports that Frans Katihokang, director at Langgam Inti Hibrido, is one of the seven officials arrested.

Indonesian officials are hopeful that legal action against the companies will help improve the situation in the future.

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