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Indonesia has rejected applications from scores of companies for new palm oil operations, an official said Tuesday, as it cracks down on an industry whose expansion has been blamed for fueling haze-belching forest fires.Almost one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of land were spared from conversion to palm oil plantations due to the decision, said San Afri Awang, a senior official from the environment and forestry ministry. Plantations on Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo have expanded as demand for palm oil has skyrocketed, but the growth has been blamed for annual forest fires that occur during the dry season due to illegal slash-and-burn land clearance.
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