Monday, 10 November 2008

Dozens of companies in Kalimantan blamed for natural disasters

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dozens of companies in Kalimantan blamed for natural disasters
Nurni Sulaiman , The Jakarta Post , Balikpapan Mon, 11/10/2008

The Kalimantan regional office of the state minister for the environment has blamed the presence of a number of recalcitrant companies for natural disasters occurring on the island.

"We have listed dozens of companies as abettors of natural disasters as a result of environmental damage, ranging from small to large-scale corporations moving in various fields, such as housing and timber," office head Widodo W. Sambodo told The Jakarta Post recently.

"However, we cannot disclose them now because we are still processing the data."

Widodo said a number of the companies were not paying attention to environmental impacts in their operational areas. The companies are spread in East, West, Central and South Kalimantan provinces.
"It is believed that they do not have Amdal (environmental impact analysis) permits. How can they take care of the environment without the required documents?" Widodo said.

Sinar Mas Group is one of the companies in question. Its subsidiary in East Kalimantan, PT Sinar Mas Wisesa, a developer of an upscale housing estate located in Balikpapan Baru, has been blamed by residents for causing floods in the area.

Areas affected by floods include the areas such as Sungai Ampal, MT Haryono and Kampung Timur. Every time it rains heavily, the rivers in the area overflow and inundate thousands of homes.

The Balikpapan Baru elite residential area is free from floods, but not the surrounding areas, including the Grand Tamansari housing complex in Bukit Mutiara.

"My mother's house floods every time it rains nowadays," said Endang, a local resident.

However, PT Sinar Mas Wisesa estate manager, Joko, told the Post that the company had acquired all licenses, including an Amdal permit, prior to starting the project.

"It is not our project that causes flooding, rather rampant deforestation and land conversion upstream," he said.

Indeed, natural occurrences cannot be predicted. However, indicators, such as forest conversion into housing, poor drainage system and the unequal equilibrium of forested and open areas contribute to flooding.
The floods in Kalimantan this year claimed the lives of one in Katingan, Central Kalimantan, six in the Loban and Satui rivers in South Kalimantan and four in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.

"To prevent further damage to the environment, we will reprimand the 'naughty' companies in the near future. Their data is in the hands of the environmental office and it is being processed," Widodo said.