MIFEE during Romanus’s Term of Office: New Permits and Deforestation Threats.

For more than three years (8th January 2011 -March 2014) the Merauke Regency leader Dr. Romanus Mbaraka and his deputy MT Sunaryo S. Sos, have taken charge of Merauke Regency, claiming the ideal of meaningful change through a green development approach and policies – or at least that was the message during their election campaign.

What does a green development approach mean? Ideally that idea would be in line with principles of sustainable development, including (1) the principle of democracy, which prioritises the people’s interest and agenda, meaning that each development should be based on the people’s needs, determined by the people themselves in a participatory manner and based on honest information; (2) the principle of justice, which gives just benefits to wider society, and most importantly the poor, not only prioritising a few individuals or groups, and also bringing the opportunity for the same benefits to be enjoyed by both present and future generations; (3) the principle of sustainability, developing a dimension of development policy that is long term and sustainable, types of resource use that are completely low-impact, non-exploitative and do not destroy ecosystems’ support capacity, in other words development must find a place for itself equidistant from economic, social and environmental interests.

At the beginning of Romanus’s term as regency head, MIFEE was sharply criticised because it wasn’t in line with principles of sustainable development and was ‘top-down’, or as Romanus put it “It is as if MIFEE was sent to us from the sky”. Romanus also said openly that there could be no MIFEE projects on Kimaam island. A popular policy Romanus launched was called GERBANGKU (an acronym for Develop my Village Movement) which increased development funds at the village level.

On several occasions Romanus stated that he would place limits on the controversial MIFEE project to meet several conditions, for example: ensuring the Marind people do not lose their right to land, and that companies must be unconditionally prepared to empower, train and develop the skills of Marind people, so they do not end up as mere spectators. Sacred places should not be interfered with or cleared as part of the development process. Let them be the small green heart of Merauke. (see Kompas, 12 October 2011)

New Permits Threaten Increased Forest Destruction

The green development mission has over time remained little more than a nice story and development has tended to take a more conventional form. Romanus has produced new policies and continued existing ones which mean giving out land without ever correcting or re-examining the unjust land-grabbing permits or their effect on communities, and this is not in line with sustainable development principles. Indeed, on the contrary, Romanus as Regency leader has renewed permits and issued new permits to snatch the people’s land, threatening forest destruction and creating anxiety amongst the community.

In late 2011, Romanus renewed PT. Hardaya Sawit Papua’s permit to develop an oil palm plantation in Jagebob district, issuing SK Bupati [decision document] 323 of 2011, dated 8 November 2011, for an area of 62,150 hectares. This despite the fact the Yeinan people in Jagebob district had made it clear that they did not want to give any of their land to a company because they felt they had already sacrificed enough land for a transmigration project.

Aside from that, another two location permits were issued to sugar-cane companies PT Dharma Agro Lestari in 50,000 ha of Tubang and Okaba districts, and PT Bhakti Agro Lestari in 26,098 hectares of Malind District. Both companies are thought to be owned by the Astra Group.

During the course of 2012, Romanus’s government issued location permits to six new companies, including five sugar-cane producers: PT Anugerah Rejeki Nusantara (subsidiary of the Wilmar Group), PT Kurnia Alam Nusantara, PT Swarna Hijau Indah and PT Randu Kuning Utama (all three subsidiaries of the Mayora Indah Group, and PT Rizki Kemilau Berjaya, and finally PT. Mega Surya Agung, which is in the business of planting maize and soya.

The total area covered by permits issued in 2012 was 188,335, the majority of which is controlled by the Mayora Indah Group and is located in Tubang, Ilwayab and Kimaam districts.

In 2013, Romanus issued location permits to five companies, namely: PT Wahana Samudera Sentosa (industrial forestry), PT Lestari Subur Indonesia (sugar-cane plantation), PT Indonesia Jaya Makmur (sugar-cane plantation), PT Purna Karsa Wibawa (sugar-cane plantation) and PT Internusa Jaya Sejahtera (oil-palm plantation). In total 164,170 hectares of permits were issued in 2013.

PT. Lestari Subur Indonesia is a subsidiary of Wilmar International, which had previously obtained a permit on Kimaam island, which was later exchanged and moved to District Jagebob and Sota. In 2013, that company negotiated for access to land but were opposed by the local indigenous people.

During Romanus’s period of governance, 14 new location permits have been issued covering an area of 490,753 hectares, in general for sugar-cane plantations. Romanus also did not manage to place restraints on permits issued by the Forestry Ministry nationally or the Papuan Provincial Government, nor on the relevant sectoral institutions such as the local forestry and plantation services or the investment board.

This policy of issuing new permits has several impacts. Firstly, there is the threat of deforestation and unsustainability. Development of sugar-cane and oil palm plantations entail replacing the forest-savannah ecosystem with monocultures, threatening the loss of low-lying forest, savannah and swampland, which is most widespread in the Merauke area. Secondly, the local government has extensive powers to issue large-scale permits to facilitate control over natural resources concentrated in the hands of corporations and a few powerful groups, which is clearly unjust and it is communities and future generations which will lose out. This policy is actually broadening conflict, bringing about the marginalisation of the Malind People and their rights to sources of livelihood, which in turn reduces the people’s trust in their government.

Sooner or later these problems will have a serious impact on the sustainability of indigenous Papuan’s existence and the sustainability of the ecological support capacity of this threatened environment.

Permits for companies in the MIFEE program during the Romanus – Sunaryo term of government (2011 – present), are as follows:


PT. Wanamulia Sukses Sejati, Industrial Forestry Plantation (IUPHHK-HTI), Kaptel and Muting Districts, 96,553. 56 ha.

  • Governor’s recommendation letter No. 79 / 2011, dated 6 July 2011, regarding AMDAL, UKL – UPL

PT. Hardaya Sawit Papua Plantation, oil palm plantation, District Jagebob:

  • SK Bupati No. 323 / 2011, 8 November 2011, Location Permit for 62.150 ha;
  • SK BKPM Prov. No.03/94/I/P/I/PMDN/2012, 25 Juni 2012, Initial Permit for sugar-cane plantation;
  • SK BKPM Prov. Papua No.570/305, 27 Juli 2012, Plantation Permit (IUP), area 44.740 ha;

PT. Bhakti Agro Lestari, sugar-cane plantation, District Malind, 26,098 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 374 / 2011, 5 December 2011, Location Permit for 26.098,13 ha;

PT. Dharma Agro Lestari sugar-cane plantation, District Tubang and Okaba, 50.000 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 373 / 2011, 5 Desember 2011, Location Permit 50.000 ha;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.19/94/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 17 April 2013, Initial Permit;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.16/P.IUP/TB/2013, 17 April 2013, Plantation Permit.


PT. Rizki Kemilau Berjaya,sugar-cane plantation, District Kurik, 10.000 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 20 / 2012, 16 January 2012, Location Permit, 10.000 ha;

PT. Anugerah Rezeki Nusantara, sugar-cane plantation, District Animha and Tanah Miring, 27.457 ha;

  • Surat  Bupati No: 27/2012, 31 January 2012, Location Permit, 27.457,27 ha;
  • Surat BKPM Provinsi No.521.005, 10 May 2012.
  • AMDAL (EIA) consultation took place in February 2014.

PT. Hardaya Sugar Papua Plantation, sugar-cane plantation, District Jagebob, 37.898 ha:

  • SK BKPM Prov. No.04/94/I/P/I/PMDN/2012, 25 Juni 2012, Initial Permit for sugar-cane plantation;
  • SK BKPM Prov. Papua No.570/306, 27 Juli 2012, Plantation Permit, 37.898 ha;

PT. Swarna Hijau Indah sugar-cane plantation, District Tubang and Kimaam, 36.363 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 249 / 2012, 7 July 2012, regarding Location Permit, 36.363 ha;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.14/94/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 26 March 2013, Initial Permit;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.13/P.IUP/TB/2013, 26 Maret 2013, Izin Usaha Perkebunan.

PT. Kurnia Alam Nusantara, sugar-cane plantation, District Tubang and Ilwayab, 50.000 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 251 / 2012, 7 June 2012, Location Permit, 50.000 ha;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.15/94/P.IUP/I/TB/2013, 26 March 2013, Initial Permit;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.15/94/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 26 March 2013, Izin Usaha Perkebunan.

PT. Randu Kuning Utama, sugar-cane plantation, District Ilwayab, Tubang and Kimaam, 40.000 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 250 / 2012, 7 June 2012, Location Permit, 40.000 ha;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.14/94/P.IUP/I/TB/2013, 26 March 2013, Initial Permit;
  • SK BKPM Provinsi No.15/94/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 26 March 2013, Izin Usaha Perkebunan.

PT. Mega Surya Agung, soya and maize plantation, District Kaptel and Ngguti, 24.697 ha;

  • Surat BKPM Prov No. 570/008 24 January 2011;
  • SK Bupati No. 407 / 2012, 27 September 2012, regarding Location Permit, 24.697 ha;
  • Surat BKPM Prov. No. 06/P.IUP/TP/2013, 23 January 2013 regarding PPIUP (Izin Usaha Perkebunan);
  • Surat BKPM No.07/94/I/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 25 January 2013, regarding Initial Permit.

PT. China Ghate Agriculture Development cassava and rice plantation, District Okaba, 20.000 ha.

  • SK BKPM Prov No.521/602, 3 October 2011, Initial Permit;
  • SK BKPM Prov No.017/P.IUP/TP/2012, 28 September 2012, Initial Permit;
  • Governor’s Recommendation No. 522/1872/SET, 5 April 2013, 20.000 ha.

PT. Cendrawasih Jaya Mandiri sugar-cane plantation, District Malind and Kurik, 22.117 ha.

  • Governor’s Recommendation No. 570/94/1/IP/PMDN/2012 for Initial Permit;
  • SK Gubernur No. 179 / 2011, 30 December 2011, regarding AMDAL, UKL – UPL;
  • SK Menhut No.36/Menhut-II/2012, 30 January 2012, Release of land from forest estate, 22.117 ha;
  • Surat BKPM Prov No. 570.199/94/IUP/I/PMDN/2012, 7 May 2012, Plantation Permit;
  • SK Gubernur No.522.1/3622, 24 September 2012, Timber use permit.

PT. Medco Papua Alam Lestari IUPHHK-HTI, District Kaptel, 74.219 ha;

  • Governor’s Recommendation No.522.1/58/29/SET, 21 December 2012;


PT. Wahana Samudera Sentosa , Industrial Forestry, District Ngguti and Kaptel, 79.033 ha;

  • Bupati’s recommendation No. 522.2/226 / 2013, 18 Januari 2013, Location Permit, 79.033,99 ha;

PT. Agriprima Cipta Persada oil palm plantation, District Muting and Ulilin, 33.540 ha;

  • SK Gubernur No.126 / 2012, 17 July 2012, AMDAL/UKL-UPL;
  • SK Bupati No. 6 / 2013, 17 January 2013, Initial Permit;
  • Surat BKPM No.03/94/IUP/I/PMA/2013, 27 March 2013, Plantation Permit.

PT. Karisma Agri Pratama rice farming, District Tubang, 37.786 ha;

  • Surat BKPM Prov. No. 03/P.IUP/TP/2013, 23 January 2013 PPIUP (Plantation Permit), 37.786 ha;
  • Surat BKPM No.04/94/I/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 25 January 2013, Initial Permit.

PT. Agri Surya Agung, sugar-cane plantation, District Tubang 36.774 ha;

  • Surat BKPM Prov. No. 05/P.IUP/TP/2013, 23 January 2013, PPIUP (Plantation Permit), 36.774 ha;
  • Surat BKPM No.06/94/I/IP/I/PMDN/2013, 25 January 2013, Initial Permit.

PT. Lestari Subur Indonesia, sugar-cane plantation, District Jagebob and Sota, previously located in District Tabonji, 25.102 ha;

  • Surat Bupati No.27 / 2013, 12 February 2013, Location Permit, 25.102, 285 ha; Transfer from District Tabonji to District Jagebob and Sota.

PT. Karya Bumi Papua, sugar-cane plantation, District Malind and Kurik, 15.628 ha;

  • SK Gubernur No. 178 / 2011, 30 December 2011,AMDAL, UKL – UPL;
  • SK Menhut No.172/Menhut-II/2012, 4 April 2012, release of land from forest estate, 15.628 ha;
  • SK Gubernur No.522.1/3622, 24 September 2012, timber use permit.
  • Surat Rekomendasi Gubernur No. 570.198/94/1/IP/PMDN/2012, 7 May 2012, Initial Permit;
  • Surat Bupati No. 63  / 2013, 20 Maret 2013, renewal of Location Permit;

PT. Internusa Jaya Sejahtera, oil palm plantation, District Muting, Ulilin and Eligobel, 18.587 ha.

  • SK Bupati No. 339 / 2013, 1 July 2013, Location Permit, 18.587,05 ha;
  • Consultation for AMDAL February 2014

PT.  Purna Karsa Wibawa, sugar-cane plantation, District Ngguti, Tubang and Okaba, 20.224 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 340 / 2013, 1 July 2013, regarding Location Permit 20.223,92 ha.

PT. Indonesia Jaya Makmur Investasi sugar-cane plantation, District Ngguti and Tubang, 20.224 ha;

  • SK Bupati No. 341 / 2013, 1 July 2013, Location Permit, 20.223,94 ha;

Source: Pusaka http://pusaka.or.id/mifee-dalam-pemerintahan-romanus-izin-baru-dan-ancaman-deforestasi/

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