Saturday, 17 May 2008

North Sumatra`s Walhi reports forest conversion to anti-corruption body

North Sumatra`s Walhi reports forest conversion to anti-corruption body.

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI) here on Friday reported a forest conversion case in South Tapanuli District, North Sumatra, to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

North Sumatra`s WALHI Executive Director Job R Purba said that PT Ondop Perkasa Makmur had received a business use rights (HGU) permit from the National Agrarian Body (BPN) to conduct logging activities and oil palm tree planting on a forest area covering 8,000 ha in South Tapanuli District.

The HGU permit was issued on October 28, 2004, despite the absence of a decree from the forestry minister on the conversion of forest function. The forestry minister`s decree was in fact issued on April 16, 2005.Purba said that PT Ondop Perkasa Makmur converted the forest area into an oil palm plantation only based on HGU permit but without supporting by a decree of the forestry minster.

The company did not even have a log usage license (IPK), he said."In 2007, we investigated that the oil palm trees had been planted thre," he said.Cutting forest tree without having IPK was a violation of the Law No. 41/1999 on forestry, he said.

The local forestry service had indeed processed the case and sanctioned PT Ondop Perkasa Makmur by imposing a fine of Rp2.8 billion, he explained.However, he questioned the action of the local forestry service of transferring the money to the forestry ministry`s treasury.He said that he had reported the case to the local police in North Sumatra but there had been no follow-up.

WALHI suspected a procedural violation which enabled PT Ondop Perkasa Makmur to operate before it got the necessary permit.KPK is investigating forest conversion cases on Sumatra Island currently. Forestry Minister MS Kaban recently expressed his readiness to come to KPK office if the anti-graft body needs his clarification about the forest conversion policy in Bintan, Riau Islands and Musi Banyuasin, South Sumatra.(*)