Government warned of catastrophe from mining in protected forestsPublished by MAC on 2004-03-08
Government warned of catastrophe from mining in protected forests
Miningdo news, Jakarta
Monday, March 08, 2004
An expert on the environment has warned the government of permanent environmental devastation if coal and oil mining in eight protected forests in Central Kalimantan continues.
Speaking to journalists who cover issue relating to the environment at a seminar organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Dr. Hariadi Kartodiharjo -- a lecturer of the forestry faculty and of the post graduate program at the Bogor Agriculture Institute (IPB) -- said that the nation would pay the price if the mining activities continued, as quoted from the Jakarta Post.
Support from local administrations in the province for mining operations would definitely cause permanent devastation of the environment, raise the threat of the extinction of rare species and decrease water supply to the 900-kilometer Barito River and millions of people living along the riverbank, he said as quoted by Antara news agency.
The damage would be irreversible and the government was accountable. The international community and mainly the next generation would experience the consequences, he added.
Kartodiharjo expressed his deep disappointment with the provincial administration, which agreed to revise the province's spatial zoning, in line with the issuance of concessions for local and foreign mining companies to explore the protected forests.
He said the government had not taken the environment into consideration in providing the concessions as it would gain trillions of rupiah from the mining.
This step would drastically reduce the protected forests' sustainability, he said.
The eight protected forests where mining activities are underway are situated in Batu Pao, Sungai Barito Ubun, Tumbang Lunmu, Datah Sapi, Tasang Butung, Lempunyat, Tumbang Olong and Tanjung Balai.
Kartodiharjo said the government should reconsider its provision of mining concessions.
If the government could not do so, he added, it should make sure that commodities extracted from the forests would not affect the national stock and production capacity. The issue needed to be determined wisely and efficiently , he concluded.
He added that mining activities should be managed professionally and local communities should hold equal power with stakeholders.
Separately, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro said here on Friday that the government could no longer revoke concessions to mine protected forests given to 22 foreign companies.
"All the companies, which secured their licenses during the New Order era, have built their own infrastructure at the locations, several have even started operation," he said, explaining that Indonesia would suffer greater losses if lawsuits were forthcoming.
The issuance of mining concessions for the eight protected forests are against the environmental law and forestry law and contrary to Ministerial Decree No. 535/2001 on the ban on coal mining in the province and Ministerial Decree No. 535/2001 on requirements for oil mining in remote areas.*