Experts and Activists Weight In on Plans to Eliminate Environmental Impact Analysis

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Jakarta (Greeners) – Mounting discussions to eliminate environmental impact analysis or Amdal for infrastructure development only showed that current administration, Jokowi-JK, was not familiar with the concept of sustainable development, said Giorgio Indarto, environmental law expert.

He said that Amdal was only considered as document that halted development resulting too many resorted to copy-paste. If that was the case, he added, it did not automatically means to eliminate the regulation. One reason is because incomplete Amdal can lead to high risks for development, he said.

“The sentiment that Amdal will postpone investment is wrong. There should have never been any plans to reduce Amdal’s standards. More often than not, Amdal is connected with the index of business easiness. This is not true,” he underlined in Jakarta, on Tuesday (29/3).

Executive director of Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Fabby Tumiwa, said that the argument for eliminating Amdal as it was disrupting the climate investment was ill-advised because it was instead crucial instrument to deal with business risks.

If Amdal was gone, he said, business risks would increase and there would be uncertainty in doing the investment.

“Amdal is a business instrument which will show if you can understand the risk’s implication. If it is said to be getting in the way of business, it would probably just about administration process. Amdal has been used in many countries that serve as a tool for investors to map out environmental risks, social conflicts, effective and less cost mitigation efforts,” he said.

Ahmad Syarifudin, chair of Joint Committee for Leaded Gasoline Phase-out (KPBB) said majority of companies were still neglecting the environmental impacts. If the Amdal was completed, then the impacts can still be assessed and try to find the solution. Even if the Amdal was rejected, companies can still improve it.

“It does not mean the end of the world for companies if their Amdal are rejected. It can be improved just as thesis. As long as there are insurance to cover the impacts, how to manage them, and how to contain them,” he added.

Under current administration, the plan to eliminate Amdal had came up for at least three times. First, in July 2015, Ministry of People’s Housing and Public Works (Kemenpura) and Investment Coordinating Agency (BKPM) suggested to review 2007 Ministerial Regulations on Building Development Technical Guidance and on Proper Function Certification Guidance. Both regulations were considered as troublesome and would send Indonesia as the least position at Ease of Business Index.

Second, on Jan 22, 2016, when DKI Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama had requested to eliminate Amdal compulsory as the Spatial Detail Planning of the city has been finalized. Consequently, it no longer need for Amdal but only environmental management efforts (UKL/UPL).

He had presented the idea to President Jokowi and Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar. Amdal is considered as inefficient and holding up permit issuance as most of them are copy-pasted.

However, Ahok’s proposal was contradictory to the 2012 Government Regulation on environmental permit which stipulated that Amdal must be formulated under Ministerial Regulation. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the regulation to be issued in the near future.

And third, on March 15, 2016, secretary of cabinet Pramono Anung said that the government had agreed to eliminate permits that were blocking business world, including nuisance permit, business place permit, principal permit for small-medium enterprises, location permit, and Amdal permit.

However, the Amdal permit could not be completely eliminated as some regions still refer to the document.

Reports by Danny Kosasih