Police urged to probe more Tesso Nilo crimes

EoF News / 05 December 2006

(Pekanbaru, EoF News) -- Environmentalists urged law enforcers in Pelalawan district to continue to prosecute scores of legal actions that they feared to be dark numbers. As deforestation escalates in Tesso Nilo forest, Riau, due to rampant encroachment and forest fires, law enforcement should be upheld urgently, they said. Tesso Nilo National Park (TNNP) and its proposed extension partly included in Pelalawan district where several forest crime cases occurred. The Pelalawan police have detained a person named Jaspun as a suspect for selling 10,000-hectare land inside the proposed national park.

The police have released the suspect since he has got illness. Nursamsu, WWF’s Forest Crime Module Leader, quoted that the Pelalawan police said would complete dossier of the illegal land transaction case and hand over it to the Attorney Office for proceeding prosecution.  “The police reaffirmed their commitment to be consistent in prosecuting the case, so we just wait and see,” he said recently.

Last week Pelalawan police said that they would probe the alleged removal of evidence of Tesso Nilo encroachment case. Riauterkini.com website reported that chief of crime researcher at Pelalawan police office, Naflizon, pledged to probe the removal of two excavators used by encroachers and previously seized by the government’s forest rangers. The report said the seized excavators were used by companies for timber operations and it allegedly involved Pelalawan senior officials and local parliamentarians.

Ali Husin Nasution, environmental lawyer of Riau Legal Aid Office (KBH) hailed the police’s effort to re-confiscate the evidences. “We will support the police by providing data,” Nasution said. Another major case that took place in Pelalawan is fires raging thousands hectares of neglected concession on behalf of PT Siak Raya Timber and PT Nanjak Makmur, two timber companies that halted operation and left the areas for rampant encroachment and open burning. Director of each company had been questioned by the police and become suspects of case that damaged the Tesso Nilo forest when the fires occurred from July to October this year.  The police did not detain Husni Jailani, director of Nanjak Makmur, and Herianto, Siak Raya Timber’s director for health exemption.

Three timber concession holders (HPH) in Tesso Nilo forest, PT. Siak Raya Timber (38,560 ha), PT. Nanjak Makmur (48,370 ha) and PT. Hutani Sola Lestari (45,990 ha), suspended operations on the ground. This condition incites rampant encroachment and illegal settlement where Landsat image on June 2004 identified that 2,623 ha areas out of total 132,920 ha is encroached by farmers. Widespread issuance of counterfeited land certification by village officials ignites rampant encroachment and illegal logging.

*Crash Image*

Minister of Forestry hailed the plan to extend Tesso Nilo, yet its implementation remains uncertain. Recurring burning and rampant encroachment cause the loss of Tesso Nilo forest by thousands of hectares.     Based on Landsat image monitored on August 2005, the encroachment rose drastically by 18,162 ha. Number of illegal occupiers mounts to 2,345 families in 2005, rose from 1,022 families in previous year.