July 4, 2019

Photos display Batang Toru dam construction progress

JAKARTA( - In April of this year, a report based on a verification led by the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry revealed that construction progress on the Batang Toru dam project, which lies within part of the Tapanuli orangutan’s habitat, stood at 10.3%, as previously reported by (Jun 24).

Hard evidence in the form of photos taken during the ground-based verification, which also involved the local government, was shared by Wiratno, the Ministry's Director General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation. These photos show the level of the dam construction’s progress. 

Wiratno said that the verification was very necessary as part of continued monitoring by the ministry aimed at ensuring that the dam construction’s impact does not cause the extinction of the Tapanuli orangutan.

“Our minister has repeatedly stressed that the monitoring process must continue on the ground as there is no compromise when it comes to the potential extinction of the Tapanuli orangutan,” he told at the ministry building (Jun 24).

The director general pointed out that there are both conservation areas and protection forests, including part of their buffer zones, located in the vicinity of the dam’s location which are also inhabited by Tapanuli orangutans. 

All the photos displayed in this news report appear in the abovementioned April 2019 verification report. 

The first two of the photos below demonstrate the access roads developed by the dam project’s developer PT NSHE, whereas the second two photos show the spoil banks in the location.

Meanwhile, in line with a statement and agreement from PT NSHE, the basecamps built with concrete in the dam’s location are only temporary and will be dismantled after the construction period is finished. 

The following four photos depict camp A, an office (camp G), a generator set (camp G) and a security camp respectively at the location, which among other things were documented in the verification report.

The verification team also documented the construction at the location of other infrastructure involved in the building of the hydroelectric power project, deemed necessary as it consists of objects used for environmental monitoring.

The four photos below portray an explosive magazine, batching plant, headrace tunnel and warehouse respectively at the Batang Toru dam location.

Actions for Tapanuli orangutans

Director General Wiratno explained that various things derived from the verification report must be integrated by PT NSHE into its environmental permit revision.

“These things include a wildlife crossing bridge mainly for Tapanuli orangutans, which also maintains their corridor,” he detailed. 

In addition, he continued, the company is also obliged to build a number of wildlife monitoring posts, primarily for monitoring Tapanuli orangutans, as well as a research centre for this critically-endangered species.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, in accordance with the authority vested in her, has already taken numerous substantial steps to completely prevent the extinction of the Tapanuli orangutan. 

One of these measures was to compel the Batang Toru dam project’s developer to revise its environmental impact assessment (AMDAL) document because the level of concern expressed in the document for the Tapanuli orangutan was still weak. This revision process remains underway.