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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Cracking down on bad logging in Indonesia

Cracking down on bad logging in Indonesia

Date : 19th December 2002, Source : Newsgroup

Government able to sue errant concessionaires - Walhi.

Jakarta Post
(c) 2002 The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Ministry of Forestry is in a position to file lawsuits against errant industrial timber companies in addition to revoking their licenses, if there is enough evidence showing that they had committed serious offenses, an environmental observer said on Tuesday. Longgena Ginting, the chairman of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) told The Jakarta Post that the government had the option of filing the lawsuits, if it possessed substantial evidence that could be presented in court.

"The ministry should publicly announce what sort of violations the companies had committed so that the public can assess whether court action is necessary or simply administrative sanctions," Longgena said. He was commenting on the ministry's plan to revoke the operating licenses of 13 industrial timber plantation companies for various reasons, including their failure to develop timber estates as required by the license. The 13 concessionaires whose licenses will be revoked were awarded concessions covering a total area of some 900,000 hectares.

The ministry took similar action against 14 companies in the middle of last month, stirring resentment among industry players. A week after the decision was announced, 13 concessionaires filed lawsuits, asking the Jakarta Administrative Court to annul the ministry's decisions.

The industrial timber plantation is a scheme in which concessionaires are allowed to clear old growth forests and replant the area with a certain type of tree for industrial purposes. The concessionaires are allowed to sell the trees from old growth forests to raise funds for the development of industrial timber plantations. The government provides them with interest-free loans derived from reforestation funds collected by the government from concessionaires. Minister of Forestry M. Parkosa said on Monday that the government had provided the errant companies with interest-free loans taken from reforestation funds.

"They have enjoyed interest-free reforestation funds from the government for years," Prakosa was quoted by Antara as saying. He said the ministry was investigating if these firms had abused the funds, but he fell short of saying if he would sue the companies on corruption charges. Although the ministry's move has caused anger among industry players, environmental observers have warmly welcomed it.

"The government is taking the right steps considering that many errant companies have violated their business licenses and damaged the environment," Satoi Hanif, the deputy program officer at the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. He said that the burning of forests to clear land, taking timber from outside designated concessions and misusing reforestation funds were three major violations often carried out by the errant companies. Longgena also said the decision was legally right.

Copyright 2002 The Jakarta Post.

Copyright 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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