The government said on Friday that it would slap palm oil companies operating within forest areas with fines amounting to a total of Rp 4.8 trillion ($310.1 million). More than Rp 475 billion ($30.7 million) in fines have been issued so far, an official from the ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment Firman Hidayat told reporters, who did not provide further details or identify the companies fined. The government said last month it had identified some 200,000 hectares (494,210 acres) of oil palm plantations in areas designated as forests, which are expected to be returned to the state to be converted back into forests.
Officials said the measures were necessary as some companies have already been tending the land for years. Companies have to submit paperwork and pay fines to obtain cultivating rights on their plantation by Nov. 2, 2023, according to the rules. While 3.3 million hectares (8.1 million acres) of the country's nearly 17 million hectares of palm plantation have been found in forests, only owners of plantations with a combined size of 1.67 million hectares have been identified.
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