Jakarta (Greeners) – During the second presidential debate, held on February 17, the presidential candidate, Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, also current president, argued that law has been enforced on forest fires cases citing 11 companies have been fined with a total of Rp18,9 trillion (US$1.3 billion). However, green group contested the claim stating that none of the money was transferred to the state.
Based on WALHI data, Ministry of Environment and Forestry won the civil legal suits against corporations for Rp16.94 trillion (US$1,204 billion) for environmental destruction and Rp1.37 trillion (US$97 million) for recovery cost between 2015 and 2018.
Arie Rompas, forest campaign leader team of Greenpeace Indonesia, said that one of the company sued by the ministry was Bumi Mekar Hijau, a supplier for Asia Pulp and Paper, one of the largest pulp company in Indonesia, back in 2014.
Bumi Mekar Hijau’s concession, located in South Sumatra, was caught fires again in 2015, the worst year for forest fires.
“By not forcing those companies to pay, the government is giving a dangerous signal that company’s benefits are more important than the law, clean air, health and forest protection. Up to date, there is not a single company had paid the compensation resulted from their roles in the disaster,” said Rompas to Greeners on Tuesday (19/02/2019).
Furthermore, he said that forest and land fires in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua contributed to polluting millions of people in Southeast Asia.
World Bank had predicted that Indonesia lost at least Rp221 trillion (US$15 billion) in forestry, agriculture, tourism, and other industries.
Meanwhile, Jasmin Ragil, director of conflict resolution at the ministry, said that the compensation money have not been paid to the state because the court has yet to execute its decision.
“Ministry of Environment and Forestry keeps on pushing these trials. This year, it’s starting with Aceh, PT Kalista Alam, with Rp366 billion (US$26 million) for forest fires. It’s currently on the stage of land auction. In Riau, PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari, an illegal logging case with Rp16,245 trillion (US$1,154 billion) which is still awaiting from the court chief decision to execute,” said Ragil on Tuesday (19/02/2019).
Other companies, — PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Waringin Agro Jaya, PT Waimusi Agroindah, PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, PT National Sago Prima, PT Ricky Kurniawan Kertapersada, PT Palmina Utama, PT Agro Tumbuh Gemilang Abadi, and dan PT Surya Panen Subur –, are still waiting for the decision and record of the decision. Without the court letter, the court could not execute its decision.
“It is knowledgeable that court process for environmental crimes take longer times because these cases are new and the court needs to make preparation,” he said. “Because, this is not just about compensation, but also environmental recovery. However, at this moment, the court will focus on the environmental loss because recovery is expected to be done by the company.”
On the compensation mechanism, he added that execution will be taken by court chief, which will be handed over to the ministry of environment and forestry via special account dedicated for environmental conflicts based on the court’s order.
The compensation money will then be transferred to the state account.
Reports by Dewi Purningsih