District officials blamed for backing up encroachment

EoF News / 03 January 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News) -- Pelalawan District administration is accused of supporting rampant encroachment practice in proposed Tesso Nilo National Park as it issued KTP identified cards for encroachers originating from other provinces. The migrants then dwelled in newly-inhabited illegal Toro village. Coordinator of Jikalahari (Riau NGOs network for forest rescue) Zulfahmi said the government should prevent migrants entering defunct HPH selective logging concession granted to PT Nanjak Makmur due to they encroach the proposed Tesso Nilo National Park extension land. “Because they just conduct illegal encroachment,” he said as quoted by Riau Terkini website Tuesday.
The encroachment triggered deforestation in Tesso Nilo forest and ignited troubled forest fires producing thick haze during July – October last year. A suspect was detained for selling 10,000 hectares of proposed Tesso Nilo National  park extension. According to Pelalawan Police’s intelligence unit chief, Naflizon, Jaspun would be moved to Pekanbaru jail early this month. The 10,000-ha encroachment land selling case would be tried if its dossier handed to court. Zulfahmi urged the law enforcers to also probe officials of Pelalawan district who issued illegal Land Certification (SKT) and ID cards. “The suspect is not only Jaspun, but also government officials who issued SKT and KTP [for encroachers],” he added.
Defunct logging concessions granted to PT Nanjak Makmur and PT Siak Raya Timber were prone to encroachment and open burning. Directors of both companies were probed by the police and accused of being suspects who did not keep their areas well. Conservationist groups proposed the defunct concessions for National Park extension where Minister of Forestry hailed it but no implementation yet. 
In recent rainy season, some parts in Riau were inundated by floods which claimed lives and loss of properties. Environmentalists blamed poor hydrology management among three provinces in Sumatra as well as rampant deforestation triggered the disaster.