ICEL

ICEL

In Indonesia, a Company Intimidates, Evicts and Plants Oil Palm Without Permits

A farmer in Maroangin shows where the company planted oil palms on his rice fields. Image by Ian Morse for Mongabay.
  • A state-owned plantation company, PTPN XIV, is evicting farmers to make room for an oil palm estate on the eastern Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
  • In 1973, the company got a permit to raise cattle and farm tapioca on the now-disputed land, but it expired in 2003. After a long hiatus, the company has returned to claim the land. It says the government has promised to give it permits in the future, but has started operations anyway even as local communities resist.
  • The case is one of thousands of land disputes simmering across Indonesia, as President Joko Widodo attempts to carry out an ambitious land reform program.
  • The president has also ordered a freeze on the issuance of new oil palm plantation permits, but the level of enforcement remains to be seen.

MAROANGIN, Indonesia — One day in March last year, Rahim was shocked and furious to find an excavator rolling through his rice field, turning the bright green grains into piles of mud. The 51-year-old farmer took photos of the incursion and demanded to know why his family’s livelihood was being uprooted.

Rahim had been farming the land for 15 years, but the workers on the scene said he was trespassing on land that belonged to a company. No company held a license to operate there, much less evict residents, but Rahim didn’t know that. Now he was being told that rows of oil palm trees would be planted where his rice was growing.

“When I can’t farm rice, how is my family supposed to eat?” Rahim said at his home in Maroangin, a village on the eastern Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The father of four recalled having cried as he watched the rice, almost ready to harvest, disappear before him. A harvest that size could have supported his family for months. Many of his neighbors also reported having their farms and pastures taken over by the company, state-owned PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) XIV.

Like countless other farmers across Indonesia, Rahim doesn’t have a deed to the land he says his family has occupied for generations. That leaves him with scant legal defense to claims laid on it by the state or private companies.

Read moreIn Indonesia, a Company Intimidates, Evicts and Plants Oil Palm Without Permits

3 NGOs Demand Issue on Prabowo’s HGU Not Used as Political Tool

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Three non-governmental organizations or NGO in environmental sector, namely Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), Greenpeace Indonesia, and Indonesian Center of Environmental Law (ICEL), demanded an issue on the cultivation right permit (HGU) recently became public spotlight not be used as a mere political tool between Joko Widodo or Jokowi camp and Prabowo Subianto camp.

The request was issued in response to the statement of Jokowi during the second presidential election debate, saying that his opponent Prabowo owned 220,000 hectares of land in East Kalimantan and 120,000 hectares of land in Central Aceh last Sunday. During the session, Prabowo admitted of controlling plots of state land with a status of HGU.

“This piece of information released by presidential candidate number 01 is an irony, where information that should be made public, and that previously hidden, was disclosed in a debate stage of presidential candidates as an effort to preserve the reign,” said Mufti Barri, manager of campaign and policy intervention of FWI, in a press release today, February 20.

Meanwhile, he opined, the urgency in exposing HGU information; such as solving a social conflict, overlapping permits, and deforestation, was set aside.

ICEL Director Henri Subagiyo supported the revelation of HGU information conveyed by Jokowi. However, he lamented the inconsistency behavior of Jokowi in light of the issue.

Henri pinned hope Prabowo could wisely respond to the matter. Moreover, Prabowo had stated his vision on a more evenly distributed and just management of natural resources (SDA).

“It is impossible to actualize it if people do not have information and control on the HGU permit issuance which is still being closed until today and can be accessed only by some people,” Henri added.

Greenpeace Indonesia also urged the government to publicize all information about HGU so that the public could acknowledge which party has a privilege in controlling plots of land.

“If Jokowi and Prabowo really concern about environment and transparency issue, they should put care and fully support this information disclosure issue on HGU,” said Asep Komarudin, a forest campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia.

 

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1177770/3-ngos-demand-issue-on-prabowos-hgu-not-used-as-political-tool

With Its $3.85b Mine Takeover, Indonesia Inherits a $13b Pollution Problem

Panoramic view of the Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesian Papua on the island of New Guinea. (Image by Richard Jones/Flickr ; Mongabay)

 

  • The Indonesian government has acquired a majority stake in the operator of the Grasberg mine, one of the world’s biggest copper and gold mines.
  • The $3.85 billion deal has been lauded as a move toward resource sovereignty, but there’s been little mention of who inherits the massive pollution legacy left from decades of mining waste being dumped in rivers and forests.
  • Activists are also calling for clarity in how the acquisition will improve the lives of the indigenous Papuan communities living around the mine, as well as end the long-running conflicts pitting them against the mine operator and security forces.

 

JAKARTA — When the Indonesian government took a controlling stake in the operator of one of the world’s richest gold mines at the end of 2018, proponents hailed the move as a historic step toward national and economic resource sovereignty.

The breathless media coverage of the transaction, which saw the government take a 51 percent stake in PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), previously majority-owned by Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan, framed it as the “return” of a prized asset — the Grasberg gold and copper mine — to the Indonesian public after decades of foreign control.

But little was said about the long legacy of toxic pollution from the mine, or how exactly the new arrangement, at a cost of $3.85 billion to Indonesia, would finally bring real benefits to the indigenous people on whose land the mine sits, and who remain among the most impoverished communities in Indonesia.

 

Inheriting a pollution problem

Under the terms of the acquisition, a 41.2 percent stake in PTFI goes to state-owned smelting company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, better known as Inalum. A 10 percent stake is held by the government of Papua province, where Grasberg is located. That latter stake, in turn, is managed 60:40 between an Inalum-controlled company and a province-owned firm. Freeport remains the operator of the mine.

But along with ownership in one of the most coveted mines on Earth, Inalum and the Papua government have also inherited a pollution problem stemming from the mining waste, or tailings, churned out by PTFI over decades.

“Does the completion of the divestment deal mean that the environmental problems can be resolved? No,” said Merah Johansyah Ismail, national coordinator of the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), an NGO. Following the takeover, he says, the national and provincial governments will also have to take the brunt of the fallout from the environmental damage caused by the mining operations.

Read moreWith Its $3.85b Mine Takeover, Indonesia Inherits a $13b Pollution Problem

Power Plants Endanger RI Oceans

Indonesia’s marine ecosystem is under threat from dozens of coal-fired power plants (PLTU) that dump hazardous wastewater into the ocean, a study has revealed.

The Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) said the government had for years upheld a regulation that allowed wastewater from the PLTU, including those located in coastal areas, to be dumped at high temperatures, which has been found to be destructive for the marine ecosystem.

Based on ICEL data, at least 15 out of 29 PLTUs in the country are located in coastal areas and all of them dump waste into the sea. The government is planning to develop 95 more PLTUs over the next 10 years, 71 of which will be situated by the sea.

ICEL researcher Angela Vania Rustandi said the government upheld Environment and Forestry Ministerial Regulation No. 8/2009 on wastewater quality standards, which stipulates that the maximum temperature of wastewater is 40 degrees Celsius.

Read morePower Plants Endanger RI Oceans

5 Bird Species Lose Protections, More at Risk in New Indonesia Decree

  • Five bird species in Indonesia have lost their protected status under a new ministerial decree, issued last month in response to complaints from songbird collectors.
  • The decree also establishes additional guidelines for birds to be granted protected status, which effectively sets the stage for any species to be dropped from the list if it is deemed of high economic value to the songbird fan community.
  • Scientists and wildlife experts have criticized the removal of the five species from the protected list, and the new criteria for granting protected status.
  • Indonesia is home to the largest number of threatened bird species in Asia, but their populations in the wild are severely threatened by overexploitation.

JAKARTA — A new decree from Indonesian authorities drops five bird species from a newly expanded list of protected wildlife, and potentially sets the stage for more to follow by widening the scope under which protected status can be rescinded.

The capture and trade of the white-rumped shama (Kittacincla malabarica), Javan pied starling (Gracupica jalla), straw-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus), Sangihe shrikethrush (Colluricincla sanghirensis) and little shrikethrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha) will remain illegal without a government permit, but the lack of protected status means violators won’t face the jail time or hefty fines prescribed in the 1990 Conservation Act.

Four of the birds were among hundreds of species added to the ministry’s list of protected species this past June. The fifth bird, the little shrikethrush, was on the original list published in 1999. All five have now been removed from the list following the publication on Sept. 5 of a decree from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry

The capture of wild birds is to be regulated through a government permit-and-quota system that is supposed to consider recommendations from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), a state-funded think tank. Mohammad Irham, a senior ornithologist at LIPI, said his institution would reject requests to capture any of the five now-unprotected species from the wild.

He criticized the rescinding of their protected status, saying it would hasten their decline in the wild. “Our decision is based on scientific data, papers and surveys on the populations of these species in the wild,” he told Mongabay.

The ministerial decree also establishes additional guidelines for birds to be granted protected status, such as the popularity of a given species for breeding and for songbird competitions.

Under current rules, protected status can be granted to a species that is native to Indonesia, has a limited range, and has a small and dwindling population. But the decree adds new criteria for birds alone: the popularity of a species among breeders and hobbyists, the extent to which it contributes to people’s livelihoods, and the frequency with which it appears in songbird competitions.

“There’s a huge local economy aspect to the birdkeeping business,” Wiratno, the environment ministry’s director general for biodiversity conservation, told reporters on Oct. 2.

Read more5 Bird Species Lose Protections, More at Risk in New Indonesia Decree

On an Island in the Sun, Coal Power is King Over Abundant Solar

Balinese fishermen from Celukan Bawang village stage a protest against the coal plant for pollution and job loss. Image courtesy of Greenpeace.

 

  • Locals and environmentalists have opposed a plan to expand a coal-fired power plan in northern Bali, Indonesia.
  • They are worried that the expansion will exacerbate the existing impact of the plant on the environment and locals’ health and livelihoods.
  •  A particular concern focuses on the survival of dolphins and endemic species living in close proximity to the plant, with Greenpeace saying the dolphins have particularly been affected since the plant came on line in 2015.
  • Another major worry is air pollution, with many locals complaining of respiratory ailments as a result of the fumes and coal dust emitted from the plant.

 

JAKARTA — Dolphins haven’t had it easy in Bali, a resort island in Indonesia that’s massively popular with tourists.

They’re often held captive in chlorinated pools for traveling circuses; a report alleges that dolphins at one such outfit had their teeth filed down or removed altogether to prevent bite injuries to swimmers.

But the biggest challenge they face is one that threatens their habitat and that could potentially drive them away from the island’s waters. That challenge comes in the form of a massive coal-fired power plant in the sleepy fishing village of Celukan Bawang, on Bali’s north coast. The plant lies west of the popular Lovina Beach, a prime spot for dolphin-watching boat tours.

But the tour operators could soon be out of business, if the grim scenario painted by a Greenpeace report plays out. Since the plant began operating in 2015, the environmental watchdog says, it has dumped coal waste residue on the land and in the sea, wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem. The steady traffic of coal barges supplying the plant have also damaged coral reefs and driven away fish.

The impact has been far-reaching, the report says, with local fishermen forced to sail further out to sea because of declining catches in their traditional fishing areas closer to shore.

In hot water

 

Didit Haryo, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, says dolphins are among the animals most affected by the power plant.

The plant is just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Lovina Beach, and as such lies easily within the typical dolphin roaming range of around 40 kilometers.

“In the past, locals in Celukan Bawang said there were still many dolphins passing by,” Didit told Mongabay. “But they say they rarely see dolphins nowadays.”

There are several ways in which the plant is potentially impacting the local dolphin population, says Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika, a marine mammal expert at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Read moreOn an Island in the Sun, Coal Power is King Over Abundant Solar

Fighting to Keep a Dirty Power Plant Out of a Tropical Paradise

Protest by local fishermen and Greenpeace activists to reject the development of new coal power plant in Celukan Bawang in Northern Bali (Photo : Made Nagi / Greenpeace)

 

The northern shores of Bali, Indonesia, are resplendent with ancient temples and coconut palm-lined black sand beaches. Villagers fish in the calm sea and tend their terraced rice paddies and fruit orchards. Large groups of spinner dolphins play close to shore, attracting a steady stream of visitors. Divers come from around the world to spot strange and fantastical creatures at sandy-bottom dive sites: mimic octopus, spotted shrimp, hairy frogfish, scorpionfish, neon-colored nudibranch. Lucky divers encounter sea turtles, sharks and rays.

But expansion of a coal-fired power plant in the fishing village of Celukan Bawang threatens this idyllic stretch of north Bali.  Although this region is already imperiled by warming seas, sea level rise and storm surges, the government ignored climate change when approving the project.  Today, in support of the local communities fighting the power plant, Earthjustice and the Indonesia Center for Environmental Law filed a legal brief  in Indonesia’s Administrative Court, arguing that the environmental assessment for the power plant expansion should have considered how the power plant will increase the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as well as how climate change will affect the plant—possibly flooding it completely during storm surges.

The Celukan Bawang power plant wouldn’t just pollute the village’s air and drinking water and devastate the marine ecosystem on which the community relies for their food and livelihoods. It also represents the Indonesian government’s commitment to double down on dirty coal power, despite the threats that climate change presents to Indonesia, like rising temperatures and sea levels and increased storm surges.  And it is unnecessary:  Java and Bali already anticipate oversupply of electricity due to slowing economic growth.

Read moreFighting to Keep a Dirty Power Plant Out of a Tropical Paradise

[Press Release] Friends of The Court: Government Must Assess Climate Change Impacts of Celukan Bawang Power Plant Expansion

BALI / JAKARTA, 26 JUNE 2018 – Nine Indonesian and international environmental groups filed an amici curiae brief, or a friends of the court brief, to Denpasar Administrative Court (PTUN), specifically the judges who adjudicate the lawsuit against Celukan Bawang Coal Fired Power Plant expansion, Bali [1]. The project does not comply with the Environmental Protection and Environmental Law No.32 of 2009 and undermine Indonesia’s international climate commitment.

 

The 18-page brief stated that the expansion of the Celukan Bawang power plant does not include a comprehensive analysis of the climate change impacts in the decision making of issuing Celukan Bawang Power Plant’s environmental permit. In fact, the environmental permit should be based on environmental feasibility decisions and the Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) that analyze comprehensively how the project impacts the environment [2]. This environmental impact should include the impacts of climate change.

 

“Amici believes that the legal obligations of Indonesia and the provisions in the Environmental Protection and Environmental Law and its derivatives provide sufficient grounds for the Judges to declare the Celukan Bawang Power Plant’s environmental permit null and void due to the lack of consideration for the climate change impacts of the project,” said Margaretha Quina, Head of Environmental Pollution Division of Indonesian Center for Environmental Law.

 

Indonesia has also ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and subsequent protocols, including Paris Agreement. Indonesia’s international climate commitment is also set forth in the NDC [3] which means that the obligation to mitigate climate change must be done on every development project.

Read more[Press Release] Friends of The Court: Government Must Assess Climate Change Impacts of Celukan Bawang Power Plant Expansion

491 Years Old Jakarta: An Age for Environmental Health

A worker finishes the revitalization of a watered area in Kota Tua, West Jakarta, Tuesday, Jan. 30. (JP/Seto Wardhana.)

 

As with every birthday I wish to plead good health, and every June 22 I also silently pray for Jakarta to get healthier. Relatively young by celebrated age, modern Jakarta has been suffering various symptoms of a sick body and the problem becomes more critical by each passing year. Unfortunately, the very environmental component of Jakarta is bad enough — and it costs us our health.

The air quality, much complained about, is surpassing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline for majority of the year with only 25 to 26 of the days throughout 2017 in good quality for everyone, according to the United States Embassy. Since breathing is 24/7, the potential for disease from air pollution is the highest. Earlier last year, medical journal The Lancet Commission had a report on pollution and human health that predicted that 72 percent of premature deaths worldwide are associated with air pollution.

The water is in no better shape — Ciliwung, Jakarta’s biggest river is famous as one of the most polluted rivers globally, for year after year it has not moved from the heavily polluted quality classification, as reported by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in 2017. In the sea, toxic soil of Jakarta Bay, a cocktail sediment of various heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants, is now being abruptly stirred up by the infamous reclamation project, bringing in more waste and plastics to the bay.

Read more491 Years Old Jakarta: An Age for Environmental Health

Envi Groups Renew Call to Scrap City Waste-to-Energy Project

On the same day, the group personally handed a letter to Mayor Lucilo Bayron’s office containing their appeal “to heed the Philippine ban on waste incineration, and pursue zero waste as the sustainable approach to managing the city’s discards.”

 

Environmentalists on Tuesday pressed anew their opposition on the planned waste-to-energy (WtE) project in Puerto Princesa City to mark the observance of World Environment Day.

A group of environmentalists led by the Environmental Legal Assistance Center ((ELAC) called on the City government to reconsider its deal with WtE developer AustWorks Corp (AWC).

“We hope the City government will hear us out, rethink its plan and opt for holistic waste prevention and reduction strategies to cut the volume of discards requiring final disposal,” ELAC executive director Attu. Grizelda Mayo-Anda said in a press conference.

Anda was joined by representatives from the No Burn Pilipinas and IPEN, a global network of over 500 public interest NGOs in 125 countries working for a toxics-free future.

Anda urged the City government to abide by the sanitary landfill’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC), requiring it to pursue zero waste approach in the next five to 10 years since it was issued in 2004.

Read moreEnvi Groups Renew Call to Scrap City Waste-to-Energy Project