Villagers protest APP pulpwood supplier over coconut misery

EoF News / 07 September 2010

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—At least 300 residents from three villages near Kerumutan peat forest block or in Gaung and Gaung Anak Serka sub-districts staged rally at office of PT Bina Duta Laksana, a pulpwood supplier affiliated to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) last week, media reports said.

The villagers of Teluk Kabung, Sungai Empat and Rambaian in Indragiri Hilir district protested the pulpwood plantation company on last Thursday (2/9/2010) over the dead of 64,000 coconut trees of their farm which they believed it was incited by the rotten logs piled up by the company since 2004.

The community accused that rotten logs piled in PT BDL’s concession were the places for lethal beetle, Brontispa longissima Gestro, which then attacked the coconut trees to die. 

The rally ended peacefully in the afternoon as the company promised to follow up the community’s demand for compensation. While, Chief of Indragiri Hilir Police Office monitored the protest from helicopter that provided by PT BDL. Scores of police also secure the area as they drove boat on Gaung River from Tembilahan town.

The community from three villagers told the Indragiri Hilir local parliament in end of August 2010 that they suffered the economic loss to Rp 26 billion due to the dead coconut trees that attacked by brontispa sp beetles.

Pekanbaru MX daily reported that the residents tried to occupy the office on Thursday (2/9/2010) as they planned as PT BDL apparently denied to comply with the agreement made in a tripartite meeting on 25 August that facilitated by the government and parliament of Indragiri Hilir district. 

On 31 August, the district government and local parliament DPRD had meeting with the management of PT BDL who apparently denied be responsible for the death of coconut trees as accused by the community.

*Crash Image*

“Otherwise PT BDL will rule out the agreement made with the community in previous meetings, we [local parliament] simply tell PT BDL to leave Indragiri Hilir [district],” said Herwanissitas, a parliamentarian of DPRD local legislative council during the hearing on 31 August, Riau Pos daily reported last week (1/9/2010).

EoF learned that the community of villages near PT BDL had told the company to take action for their complaints. But there is no any investigation conducted by independent team as the company promised to the farmers.

On 13 August, the APP affiliated company also agreed with the district’s Environmental Agency to resolve problems that faced by coconut plantation farmers by providing experts to investigate the accusation, Riau Pos reported.

Riau Mandiri daily reported that the community filed complaint to DPRD legislators and accused that PT BDL which started operation in 2004 had caused sufferings to the community. 

“The existence of that company [PT BDL] is just to bring misery to the community rather than to contribute well,” said Maharum Ibrahim, an informal leader of Teluk Kabung village, to the local parliament on 24 July 2010. He said that the company also annexed 1,750 hectares of community’s land. The company denied such an accusation and still waited for an investigation. 

Village Head of Rambaian also said that a long time before PT BDL operates in the area, there was no any trouble to their coconut farm. As PT BDL started operation in the area, the brontispa sp beetle attacked their coconut trees and the villagers could not yield any longer from the farming, the village head said.

The communities had filed their complaint to local legislative council (DPRD) in July and August this year. They also sent a letter to the Minister of Forestry and Riau Government agencies and DPRD Riau parliament.  

The company denied such an accusation and still waited for an investigation. 


EoF News on dead coconut trees


EoF Report on PT BDL