Indonesia fire
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (R) and coordinating security minister Luhut Panjaitan walk after inspecting newly-built canals to prevent peatland fires in Pulang Pisau, east of Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan October 31, 2015. Indonesia has taken action against 23 companies for starting the fires.Reuters

Indonesia has brought 23 companies to book for starting forest fires in the Sumatra and Borneo islands that led to a disastrous smog and haze in the region, even affecting Malaysia and Singapore. 

Most of these companies had started fires to clear land for pulp wood and palm oil plantations.

Thirty-three other companies are also under watch for their involvement in the biggest forest fires in the country in nearly two decades, The Jakarta Post reported.

The punishments include suspension or revocation of licenses to administrative sanctions. 

Earlier this year, Singapore had initiated legal actions against five Indonesian companies responsible for the plantation fires, including Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the largest paper and pulp firms in the world. 

 Indonesian President Joko Widodo had sought help from Singapore, Russia, China, and Australia among other nations to combat the forest fires.

The haze and smog had led to a severe health crisis in the region, forcing closure of schools and leading to several case of haze-related ailments. 

The forest fires in Indonesia are believed to be responsible for an average annual mortality of 110,000 people mainly due to respiratory and cardiac illnesses caused by the smog, as per a study by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Greenpeace has released a drone footage of the forest fires, claiming that they can release more carbon dioxide than the entire United Kingdom this year.

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