May 30, 2011
By Priyambodo RH
The West Kalimantan chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) has called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to evaluate the massive way in which oil palm plantations were being opened in the country and to abandon plans to build a nuclear power plant. “We hope the government will not force its will in developing oil palm plantations and planning to build a nuclear power plant without paying attention to their social and environmental aspects,” said Hendrikus Adam, chairman of the West Kalimantan chapter of WAHLI`s Research and Campaign Division.
West Kalimantan reportedly has around four million hectares of oil palm plantations, exceeding the quota of 1.5 million hectares. The massive development of oil palm cultivation in West Kalimantan could cause conflicts between indigenous people as owners of traditional land and plantation developers. “We and the people need certainty and a clear stance of the government in protecting the people`s right to enjoy good and healthy environmental conditions,” he said.
According to the local WALHI`s data, there have been 6,632 ecology-related disasters. Data from Oil Palm Watch shows there have been 630 conflicts regarding oil palm plantations and 200 monoculture plantation conflicts up to 2010. From 1980s to 2009, a total of 229 companies have received licenses to open 3.57 million hectares of oil palm plantations, but only 318,560 hectares have been developed, according to data from the Dayakology Institute and Oil Palm Watch collected from six districts in West Kalimantan Province. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to visit Pontianak on May 30 and 31, 2011.