An appeal not to issue Cultivation Rights Title to the Korindo Group in North Maluku.

[Korindo, the South Korean timber and plantation company which has caused so many problems on it’s plantations in Merauke and Boven Digoel, Papua, is also facing opposition from communities confronted with a new plantation in Gane Bay, on the island of Halmahera in Maluku. This is a translation of a press release issued in Jakarta on 26th May by environmental groups Walhi and TuK Indonesia.]

ganeLarge-scale oil palm plantation expansion in Sumatra and Kalimantan has resulted in environmental degradation, exceeding the state’s ability to control its impact. Currently oil palm plantation expansion is moving towards the east of Indonesia, creating multidimensional consequences for the community of Gane in the South of Halmahera island, North Maluku. The people of South Halmahera, who have managed to survive for hundreds of years in an area with few water resources by cultivating perennial crops in the forest, are currently experiencing drought and the destruction of coastal ecosystems caused by the forest being denuded to make way for oil palm plantations.

According to Fahrizal Dirhan, organising manager for Walhi North Maluku, “In Gane, South Halmahera, North Maluku a company has been acting irresponsibly towards the community. There are indications that land clearing for the palm oil plantation of PT Gelora Mandiri Membangun, a subsidiary of the Korindo Group, has been accompanied by multiple violations, such as haphazard forest clearance without paying attention to environmental concerns, and this is having a severe impact on local social and ecological conditions, especially in Gane Bay, which is a coastal area with small islands.”

“PT. Korindo’s plantation is located in three sub-districts, South-west Gane, which is made up of eight villages. South-east Gane, where there are five villages, and the Goronga Archipelago, with seven villages. The company’s plantation area was described in the South Halmahera Bupati’s decree 103/2011, issuing a location permit for plantation development.

“Our findings in the field have shown that PT Korindo’s land clearing work has resulted in the death of several coral reefs, due to the rapid rate of sedimentation as water flows over the bare earth to the coast, and this has made life difficult for local people, the majority of whom work as farmers or fisherfolk.”

As a response to this situation, the community of Gane has written to the North Maluku office of the National Land Agency to ask it to halt the process of issuing Cultivation Rights Title (HGU) to the Korindo Group, which started on 16th May this year. The area which PT Gelora Membangun Mandiri wishes to develop as an oil palm plantation is 11,003.9 hectares.

“Several considerations form the basis for the community’s demand. Amongst others, the community was opposed to PT Korindo’s plans from the outset, but later the company manipulated statements from the people by using village bureaucracies as a tool to pressure people, which created a tension between people who supported the plantation and those wh were against. Also, Korindo has lied to the people, planting stakes on the people’s land and claiming that this land is within their HGU area, meaning that people going to their gardens are forbidden to cross the company’s area. People trying to defend their land have experienced intimidation and discrimination.”

“The company engages in destructive practices such as clearing people’s land and destroying thousands of seasonal and perennial crops in the process, and has covered over the water source which people in Gane used to consume. What’s more, there are still issues with Korindo’s Environmental Impact Assessment which is the subject of a ongoing legal process in the North Maluku police headquarters.

The Gane People’s Resistance Front had previously written to the Jakarta office of the National Land Agency stating their opposition to PT Korindo’s proposal of Cultivation Rights Title because their customary land, including cultivated land, was included in the proposed HGU area.

Source: TuK Indonesia


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