One Day meeting Held to Discuss the MIFEE Project

Jayapura (4/7) — Students from Merauke and NGO activists have put the spotlight back on MIFEE (the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) after a period of inactivity. Discussions about the mega-project were held at the Maro dormitory in Padang Bulan, Jayapura on 4th July 2012.

Opening the discussion, Diana Gebze said the aim of the meeting was to draw together the latest information regarding the project, and from that, to agree on recommendations to and plans for the next steps. “I hope this discussion comes up with recommendations of how to continue with the struggle and what should be our next steps”

The first speaker, Paulus Samkakai, said that the people who own the land reject MIFEE, although the government has exerted pressure on them to accept it.

He said that the project was detrimental to the interests of the local people. It was harmful to their livelihoods. An example he gave was the impact on people’s ability to collect sago. The land round the MIFEE project was now parched as a result of the impact of drainage on the supply of water organised by the government. ‘The sago plants in Kaiburse and several other kampungs have been affected by salty sea water which has seeped into the drainage system,’ he said.

Abner Mansai, the coordinator of the Environmental Advocacy and Natural Resource Development division of Foker LSM Papua said ‘When I was in Merauke recently and visited several kampungs, almost all the people said they reject MIFEE.’.

Another speaker, , the ex-vice-chair of the Papuan office of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), Matius Murib, said that it was not enough for the issue to be discussed by just one group, everyone must get involved, students, government officials and NGO activists. He said that, from data he had obtained while still working for Komnas HAM, around 37 investor companies were keen to get involved in MIFEE, most of whom want to set up palm oil plantations.

The discussion continue for the whole day, at the end of which Diana Gebze drew together the points agreed upon. The first point was the need for a academic forum to be held, the second was the need to hold talks with officials involved with the project, and the third was the need for further consolidation at the grassroots level in all the kampungs involved.

According to a department of the administration of Merauke, 32 companies have already received licences to operate  in various sectors. This includes 316,347 ha for planting palm oil, 156,812 ha for sugarcane plantations, 97,000 ha for the growth of maize, 973,05 ha for foresty, 69,000 ha to grow foodstuffs, 2,818 ha for woodchips and 1,200 ha for housing, for a total of 1,616,234 ha.

From tabloid jubi

[Slightly abridged translation by TAPOL. Slightly extended again by awasMIFEE]

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