PT Pusaka Agro Lestari starts work again, but local forestry service still wants safeguards.

After mounting criticism of PT Pusaka Agro Lestari, an oil palm company owned by Noble Agri which is linked to the giant COFCO group, the local regency head in Mimika took the step of revoking the company’s permit to operate in December last year. However, PT Pusaka Agro Lestari already held cultivation rights (Hak Guna Usaha), a form of land title which would have stronger weight than a local politician’s decision if the case came to court. This article, translated from the website, explains the local government’s efforts to address the problems caused by the company’s operations:

Mimika Forestry Service prepares directions to oversee oil palm company

The Mimika Regency Forestry Service, has prepared written directions to oversee PT Pusaka Agro Lestari’s performance. The company holds cultivation rights with which to operate an oil palm plantation in the area.

The head of the Mimika Forestry Service, Syahrial, said in Timika on Monday that these written directions would compel PT Pusaka Agro Lestari to implement a range of actions to benefit local people.

“We will make a written agreement between the local government and PT Pusaka Agro Lestari about actions the company should take. We’ll formulate this in writing and it will be signed by the two parties in order to improve performance and monitor the company,” Syahrial said.

The matters addressed in the written agreement included to oblige the company to report in detail its operational activities and meet routinely each quarter with the Mimika District Administration and the local Consultative Leadership Board.

It also presses the company to build industrial processing facilities for oil palm fruit as soon as possible, to construct decent housing for the local customary rights holders, as well as a school building, place of worship, etc.

PT PAL obtained cultivation rights from the central government in 2010 to develop an oil palm plantation on 39,000 hectares of land. Before this was granted, the company had obtained a permit frrom the Mimika Bupati (regency head) back in 2007.

PT Pusaka Agro Lestari’s plantation site lies between the Kamoro River in the east to the Mimika river in the West, alongside the Timika-Paniai road.

However in mid-December 2014 the Bupati of Mimika, Eltinus Omaleng, revoked the company’s permit, based on the fact that its operations were destroying the forest in Mimika and creating flash flooding in villages along the coastline of Mimika.

When the company wanted to take the Bupati to court, the regency administration reinstated its work permit and recommended that it recommenced its operations.

After the work permit had been reinstated, Bupati Omaleng formed an integrated team which would involve bodies such as the forestry service, labour, transmigration and housing service, and the Environmental Management Board to watch over and control the company’s operations.

According to Syahrial, PT PAL is currently providing work to around 900-1000 people, 70-80% of which are ethnic Papuans from the Kamoro peopla and other ethnic groups living in Mimika.

“What we want is to keep it like that, so that the current percentage of local workers can’t be transferred to other people from outside Papua, so that this company can really be benefitting the local community,” Syahrial said.

So far PT Pusaka Agro Lestari has planted oil palm on an area of 3000 hectares, from the total of over 4000 hectares the company has cleared.

The company will build a factory to process the oil palm fruit once the area planted reaches 8,000 – 10,000 hectares. In the future, if the company is able to plant 28,000 hectares with palm oil it will be obliged to build three processing plants in Mimika.

“As this company clears the forest to plant oil palm, we continue to push it to pay attention to conservation issues Sand move swiftly to build a factory so that it can bring added value to the community, not just to the local government”, Syahrial said.



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