APRIL's supplier PT SRL protested in islands

EoF News / 21 October 2011

EoF News (PEKANBARU)-- Meranti District councilors said Tuesday they would submit a letter to the Minister of Forestry to evaluate the operation by pulp and paper timber in Pulau Rangsang, an island off Riau eastern coast.

Meranti District Legislative Council had met management of PT Sumatera Riang Lestari (SRL), affiliated to Asian Pacific Resource Holding Limited (APRIL), in Selatpanjang, Meranti District, in a hearing on Tuesday (18 Oct).

Meranti councilors asked the company for lack of delineation with residents' lands as locals complained despite the logging operation for pulpwood conversion has been running for three years as it is granted latest Annual logging license (RKT 2011), Riau Pos daily reported Wednesday (19 Oct)."I will ask Commission II to write recommendation to review to the Ministry of Forestry regarding to unfinished delineation and other SRL's obligations in Meranti," said Hafizoh, a local councilor at a hearing with PT SRL Pulau Rangsang block management.

Another legislator of Meranti District council, Ruby Handoko, said that PT SRL had no intention to complete their delineation. "It means that over three years the delineation and other obligations have not been fulfilled until today," Handoko said.PT SRL Pulau Rangsang block told the councilors that they will follow up the demand asked by the DPRD Meranti and would amend shortcomings in fulfilling obligations.

While, another PT SRL operation in Pulau Rupat island is also marred with protest from community in the area as Riau Province Legislative Councilors considered that the conflict could be more tense unless there is no good response by the company.

In the end of September four councilors of DPRD Riau visited site of PT SRL concession in Pulau Rupat and they admitted that accusation by locals of PT SRL's flawlessness indeed happened, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported ."We are deeply concerned about condition faced by community of Pulau Rupat," said Jabarullah. "Seemingly, reports by community recently are true, greedy takes place here," Tribun Pekanbaru quoted as saying (28 Sep).

Jabarullah said that PT SRL should respect locals and pay attention to them."But it doesn't, while delineation is unclear, but Pulau Rupat is entirely drained by peat canals just like river. This could sink Rupat island," he added. Following the field visit, Commission A of DPRD Riau recommended that operation by PT SRL in Pulau Rupat should be suspended.

While, PT SRL insisted that it would not stop its  operation as they had obtained license of concession from the Minister of Forestry and the company worked in the area allocated by the Government, Tribun Pekanbaru reported recently (3 Oct).

Eyes on the Forest (EoF) investigation recently has found that PT Sumatera Riang Lestari (SRL) in its Blok Rupat concession had destroyed habitat of protected Ramin species (Gonystylus sp) that internationally protected since 2003 by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In March 2010, at least 2000 families had signed a petition to the Government to protest the pulpwood plantation expansion of PT SRL, an affiliated company to APRIL, as they fear the operation would cause devastating impact to the small island and misery to people living there.

EoF calls on PT SRL and APRIL to stop natural forest clearing and draining peat canals in Rupat Island as its license is legally questionable and possibly creates social conflict, jeopardizes community economy as well as poses threats to High Conservation Value Area and affects negatively global climate.