2016-05-03

APRILs claim of 'unauthorized activity' makes no sense according to CSO alliance


JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The harvesting of plantation fiber in acacia-planted blocks in a concession belonging to one of APRILs major suppliers, PT SRL which operates on Rupat Island in Sumatra's Riau province, at a time when the concessions permit had been suspendedby the Indonesian government due to its involvement in the 2015 peat fires represents a clear violation of the terms of the suspension.

Nonetheless, APRIL sought to explain the situation by announcing it had received a report from the supplier concerned claiming that the harvesting constituted an 'unauthorized activity' and had been reported to the police. In its explanation, APRIL also declared that it was unable to comment any further on the so-called 'unauthorized activity' for the very reason that it had been reported to the police.

The explanation provided by APRIL has met with skepticism in some quarters however. APRILs explanation doesnt make any sense. Even if a company has its permit suspended, it is not allowed to simply relinquish all responsibility for the control of its concession area. How is it possible that this 'unauthorized activity' could take place? It clearly makes no sense at all, Woro Supartinah, Coordinator of JIKALAHARI (The Riau Forest Rescue Network), told foresthints.news (Apr 29).

Woro thought it appropriate to put some questions to APRIL. Of those parties who have access to this concession, who is capable of harvesting plantation fiber in the acacia-planted blocks? Who is capable of mobilizing heavy equipment for the purposes of harvesting?

We obviously cannot accept APRIL's reasoning in this matter. Its supplier can't just shirk its responsibility and, instead, has to remain accountable for what is happening on the ground even during the period of its permit suspension. APRIL's claim that there was 'unauthorized activity' taking place is tantamount to APRIL stating that PT SRL failed to take any responsibility for its suspended concession, she explained.

Woro emphasized that the local community was clearly not involved in the alleged 'unauthorized activity'. Rather, she questioned the intention behind APRILs claim that 'unauthorized activity' was taking place while PT SRLs permit was suspended.

What exactly are APRIL and its supplier trying to prove? Are they trying to prove that they are not guilty of harvesting plantation fiber in the PT SRL concession while its permit was suspended? We clearly cannot accept the term 'unauthorized activity', as they were still responsible for any activities in the concession," Woro asserted.

The forest campaigner feels that both APRIL and its supplier are trying to avoid taking responsibility for any violations that occurred during the concession permit suspension period. They are attempting to wash their hands of any responsibility and this is something we simply cannot accept, she said firmly.

Woro warned that the claims of APRIL and PT SRL betray an irresponsible attitude and are in contravention of Indonesias laws and regulations.

Based on calculations by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, as much as 350 hectares - the equivalent of 350 football pitches - of plantation fiber in acacia-planted blocks was harvested in PT SRLs concession while its permit was suspended.

On the basis of this calculation, as previously reported by foresthints.news, the ministry has stated that it will definitely be sending a letter to the APRIL supplier demanding a detailed explanation of the purported 'unauthorized activity' which was carried out.