MAC: Mines and Communities

Activists Ask Megawati To Revoke Mining Decree

Published by MAC on 2004-03-16
Source: The Jakarta Post ()

Activists ask Megawati to revoke mining decree

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

16 March 2004

A group of environmental activists and economists called on the government on Monday to revoke the regulation in lieu of law (perpu) that allows 13 mining companies to resume activities in protected forests, saying their operations would cause more economic losses and environmental damage.

They also called on the House of Representatives, which is now in recess, to reject the regulation President Megawati Soekarnoputri issued two weeks ago.

Article 22 of the newly amended Constitution stipulates that the president may issue such a regulation in an emergency situation. It must, however, win the approval of a House plenary meeting, otherwise it must be revoked.

"The perpu contains procedural and substantial flaws and should be revoked," Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Kehati) director Ismid Hadad told The Jakarta Post here on Monday.

Megawati issued two weeks ago Perpu No. 1/2004, which allows 13 mining companies in protected forests to resume their activities. The 13 mining companies were part of some two dozen mining firms operating in protected forests that froze their operations following enactment of new forestry legislation in 1999.

The law, which banned opencast mining in protected forests, made no mention of contracts signed before it was enacted, creating uncertainty for mining companies already operating in protected forests.

The legal uncertainty forced the companies to either freeze or scale down their operations. Article 38(A) of Perpu No.1/2004 stipulates that all licenses and contracts for mining business in forests signed before the enactment of the Forestry Law were valid for the remainder of the original term of the license or contract. Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti said the 13 mining companies would be allowed to resume their activities because they had proven reserves that were economically viable.

Also on Monday, a group of nongovernmental organization (NGOs) activists and economists criticized the issuance of the new regulation, which they said would only worsen environmental destruction.

They included economist Dradjad H. Wibowo, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) director Longgena Ginting, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) official Mubariq Achmad and Advocacy Network for Mining (JATAM) coordinator Siti Maimunah. They said in a statement that Megawati had issued the regulation without providing proper information and justification to the public. They added that issuance of the regulation clearly showed that the President had no commitment to conserving the depleting forest. They alleged that Indonesia's forests had been decreasing by about 3.8 million hectares per year, causing the state to lose some Rp 30 trillion annually.

Legislator M. Askin revealed that House Commission VIII for environmental issues had told the government to study the possibility of allowing mining activities in protected forests. "The perpu was issued before the government completed its study, so I think the House will not approve it," he said.

 

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