Council to set up committee for Kampar controversy

EoF News / 15 January 2010

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Riau Province Legislative Council (DPRD) decided to establish a special committee to verify controversy brought by pulpwood development permit of PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), an associated company to Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).

Media reported recently that DPRD Riau from three commissions agreed to set up a special committee to find out solution for PT RAPP’s pulpwood expansion in Kampar Peninsula which staunchly opposed by local community in Teluk Meranti village, Pelalawan district which also supported by environmental organizations.

Riau Pos daily today (15/1/2010) reported that following a meeting with Riau Province forestry and environmental agencies here on Thursday parliamentarians from three commissions, A, B and C, would set up the committee to find out solution to tackle the problem.

“In fact, we cannot establish the special committee due to our Legislation Body is not set up yet,” said Djohar Firdaus, DPRD speaker. Despite this, the Council agreed to set up the Committee and also to meet the Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan to discuss the controversy.

Last week, community of Teluk Meranti pledged their protest to the existence of PT RAPP operation in the area of 56,000 hectares. The community which supported by Riau NGOs filed their petition to representative of National Forestry Board, Taufik Alimi, to convey their messages to the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported last week (8/1/2010).

Riau Pos daily reported that Commission C members supported the company to improve the forest management. While, other parliamentarians criticized the company despite the assistant I to province’s secretary raised the concerns of manpower issue.

AB Purba, a parliamentarian, told the province government that PT RAPP’s boss (Sukanto Tanoto) always gains profit from the pulp business. “So, the manpower issue is only the company’s camouflage. Bear in mind, the two giant pulp companies in Riau (APRIL and APP) should be controlled, otherwise, you will be beggar in your own homeland,” AB Purba told Abdul Latif, the assistant I to province’s secretary, Riau Terkini website reported Thursday (14/1/2010).

Zulkifli Yusuf, the Riau Forestry Service Head, told the hearing that the new license granted to PT RAPP in Teluk Meranti of Kampar Peninsula has problems. His Service had submitted official letter to the Minister of Forestry on 2 September 2009 to ask review on the permit.

The Forestry Service Head said that the concession of PT RAPP overlap with five conservation areas such as Wildlife Reserves of Rimbang Baling, Tasik Pulau Padang, Danau Pulau Besar, and Tesso Nilo National Park. The size of expanded PT RAPP concession in the area as mentioned in the permit is 350,000 hectares (from initial 235,000 ha), and the Riau Forestry Service measured it and found the total size is 357,000 ha.

Zulkifli Yusuf added that 20,000 hectares of area converted into pulpwood plantation is genuine converted production forest which prohibited for HTI pulpwood plantation before undertaking land use change from forest one.

EoF learned that APRIL only used its genuinely longtime permit as well as its old environmental impact assessment (Amdal) to propose expansion for HTI to the Government.

Still clearing

Reports from the field said that APRIL’s PT RAPP was still clearing the natural forest in peat Kampar Peninsula despite the Minister of Forestry’s call for suspension.

EoF learned both APP and APRIL had cleared thousands of hectares of natural forest in deep peat of Kampar Peninsula and Kerumutan forest blocks.

Kampar Peninsula, Kerumutan and Senepis peat forest blocks are habitats for endangered Sumatran tigers where APP and APRIL are clearing natural forest to convert into pulpwood plantations.