Pulau Padang residents lodge complaint on APRIL's PT RAPP

EoF News / 16 November 2011

PEKANBARU (EoF News)-- Residents of Pulau Padang of Meranti District urged Riau Legislative Council (DPRD) to help halt operation of PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) in the island for land dispute and environmental concerns.

The residents came to DPRD Riau compound in Pekanbaru on Monday (14 Nov) where Commission A had meeting with Meranti District Head, Riau Forestry Service Head, Serikat Tani Riau organization and Director of PT RAPP, an Asian Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) main timber supplier and subsidiary.There is no clear recommendation of the meeting, reported zamrudtv.com, as the residents had flocked the compound since the end of October.

Pulau Padang is located near Malacca Strait and has west border with Sumatra island. It has 1,109 square kilometer size with population of 47,000 people.Reports said Pulau Padang residents protested that at least 10,000 hectares of their land was taken over by APRIL's subsidiary for pulpwood plantation conversion.

PT RAPP obtained 41,000 hectares in the island to be converted while the community feared the environmental impact will be made by the company as the island is mostly deep peat.

Meranti District Government and Local Parliament (DPRD Meranti) had submitted their recommendation to Ministry of Forestry to review the pulpwood plantation license issued by the Government during the district was part of Bengkalis administration.Two weeks ago, the residents of Pulau Padang came to DPRD compound to urge Commission A to submit recommendation to the Ministry of Forestry. "Any efforts we had made. From local officials to the central's we had asked explanation.

Right now what we need is a good will to accomplish this problem," said Ridwan, representative of residents, Tribunnews reported (31 Oct).Meanwhile, Senator of Regional Representative (DPD) from Riau, Abdul Gafar Usman, called on APRIL's PT RAPP to pay much more attention to concerns expressed by community of Pulau Padang as their demand was frequently ignored by the pulp company, Halloriau reported (4 Nov).Five residents of Pulau Padang expressed their protest by sewing their lips in the parliament compound.

Abdul Gafar said that the company should pay attention to economy and welfare of residents due to the logging operation for conversion. He said DPD would review from several aspects following the issuance of Ministry of Forestry decree number SK 327 year 2009 that allow PT RAPP to convert natural forest for pulpwood plantation, including in Pulau Padang.

Sutarno, secretary of Serikat Tani Rakyat, organization empowering farmers in Pulau Padang, said that residents urged the Government to stop operation of PT RAPP and revoke the Ministry Decree number 327/2009 allowing conversion of 41,205 hectares land in the island.

Riau Province Government said last week they would deploy an integrated team to solve conflict in Pulau Padang to identify land disputes between PT RAPP and community, said Assistant to Secretary I, Abdul Latief, Riau Pos reported on 8 November.Conflict between PT RAPP and Pulau Padang community has been running for one and a half year, said Sutarno.

While, WALHI Riau director executive, Hariansyah Usman, said that the community confirmed their seriousness in fighting their cause, so the Government and the company should not ignore this.

APRIL timber suppliers dominated pulpwood conversion concessions in small islands which mostly bordered to Malaysia, such as PT RAPP in Pulau Padang, PT Sumatera Riang Lestari in Pulau Rupat, PT SRL in Pulau Rangsang, and PT Lestari Unggul Makmur in Tebing Tinggi sub-district. Rejection and protest by communities in these islands against APRIL's timber suppliers are commonplace.