No Surrender to PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera

The manager of oil palm company PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera has paid several visits to Frans Kalawen’s house, asking him to come to a meeting in the company’s offices in Aimas and negotiate the future of thousands of hectares of customary forest belonging to his family in Matawolot, Salawati District, Sorong, West Papua.

Frans Kalawen, who is a farmer by profession and is also head of the village assembly in Klawotom village, Salawati District, has not been discouraged and continues to firmly oppose the oil palm company. “Although other neighbours have already given up their ancestral land, I still don’t want to surrender to this oil palm company. I have already seen the effects of oil palm companies and they do not bring any benefit for us, the indigenous people of Papua”, he said, commenting on PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera’s offer and plans.

PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera offered 22 million Rupiah for Frans Kalawen’s ancestral land, which includes thousands of hectares of forest. This value does not begin to compare with the potential wealth contained within the area of forest, such as merbau trees, callophylum, groves of langsat fruit trees, sago, trees to make mats from (tikar), animals and so on. Frans Kalawen told the story of how the community had lost out because the company didn’t replace the wealth that existed in nature. “The amount of money that was given along with the company’s promises cannot be compared with what the community has lost when the forest disappeared. Other clans were only given 7 – 11 million Rupiah, and the promises have yet to be realised”, he explained.

He revealed that PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera started land clearing in 2003 and planted the first trees around Ninjemur and Modan in Mosigin District in 2008. This means the company had violated the law because logging had taken place before the Forestry Ministry had issued a permit to release state forest lands, which it finally did in September 2012 (Reference SK.516/Menhut-II/2012), realeasing 19655.35 hectares in Salawati and Segun districts. [see note below]

According to a Telapak/EIA report (2012), it was found that the company had already been cultivating and planting in January 2008, while its Plantation Permit (IUP) was only issued in September 2008. This indicates that PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera had committed violations which were known about by staff at the local Forestry and Plantation Service, but no actions were taken to uphold the law.

Most of the land in PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera’s plantation is owned by the Moi Sigin indigenous people of Klawotom village, including the Kalagilit, Kalawen and Sawat clans. While it is known that the clan chiefs did sign documents agreeing that the company could lease and use their land, they do not possess copies of those agreements, nor the promises to support education, build housing for the community and pay for medicines, or to give land for oil-palm smallholdings. The community were also not given formal documents by the company, such as copies of the company’s permits, environmental impact assessments and so on. That means the community has no control when the company violates the rules.

Visiting the new location in Matawolot reveals that the company has been piling up the wood it has cleared, has cleared sago groves and is operating just tens of meters from riverbanks. This contravenes clauses in Forestry Ministry Decision SK Menhut 516/2012 (the forest release permit) and other provisions on the protection of High Conservation Value forest.

Ideally the government and law enforcement officials should take action right away to uphold the law against companies that commit violations. Allowing them to keep occurring will just provoke social unrest and the government, the community and companies will all lose out.


[Additional information from awas MIFEE concerning whether PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera’s forest clearance before 2012 was legal or not: Sorong local government data from 2011 claims that the company’s concession included an area of 850 hectares in Seget District and 2700 hectares in Salawati district that were not part of the state forests, so would be legal to clear. Checking deforestation data from between 2008 and 2012, it would appear that most of the logging at that time was in these legal areas. All other violations mentioned in this article are not in doubt.]

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