Revised RTRW East Kalimantan Loaded with Business Interests?

%When IKN Comes, Indigenous People Are Worried That Traditions Will Disappear%

Revisions to the Spatial and Territorial Plans (RTRW) that are currently underway in various regions, such as in East Kalimantan, need to be escorted so that they don’t only benefit the oligarchs. Analysis by Civil Society Organizations who are members of the Indonesia Monitoring Coalition found that 156 company concession permits allegedly benefited from this revision.

The revised RTRW or RTRW Change (RTRWP) for East Kalimantan was actually approved as a Regional Regulation (Perda) at the end of last March . However, the coalition said that the integrated team formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry only carried out data harmonization and feasibility checks after that.

Not only that, the coalition consisting of Walhi, Auriga Nusantara Foundation, Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA), Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), Walhi East Kalimantan and AMAN East Kalimantan noted that there were efforts to release forest areas of up to 612,355 hectares in the RTRWP of East Kalimantan. Another 101,788 hectares is a decrease in forest area.

A total area of ​​736,000 hectares or 97% of the area in the revised RTRW for the province which is hosting the Capital City of the Archipelago will have an impact on forest areas.

“About 56% or 408,255 hectares are still natural forest,” said Hilman Afif, researcher and campaigner for Auriga Nusantara in a media briefing held in Jakarta recently.

In each land that is included in each proposed revision, he said, there are already several permit holders. The 156 permit-holding companies consist of 39 industrial forest plantations, 101 mining companies and 16 oil palm companies.

Mining is the sector that benefits the most. Apart from dominating the existing permits, the reduction of protected forest areas to production in the RTRWP is allegedly aimed at accommodating this sector.

From the records of the coalition, these 101 mining IUPs annexed 164,429 hectares of which 106,782 hectares were proposed to be released as forest area status and 56,395 hectares were protected forests proposed to become limited production forests. From the results of Auriga’s spatial analysis, the protected forest that was annexed was an educational forest at Mulawarman University.

Worse, the RTRWP has not yet been completed, there has been an opening right at the proposed forest area change polygon. The location is near two mining companies, PT Nusantara Kaltim Coal (NKC) and PT Batubara Nusantara Kaltim (BNK) in Long Nyelong Village, East Kutai.

In the February-April period there was an opening of 800 hectares. “Based on the cutting pattern, this seems to be HTI (done). Because there is a mine here, we assume a temporary (change in area) for mining,” said Hilman.

Changing areas for mining through the RTRWP is crucial for this sector, especially if a mining company only has an IUP but not a principle permit. They can only open a mine in a forest area if there is a forest area release permit or a forest area borrow-to-use permit.

While NPK and BNK do not have that permit. So, releasing forest areas through the RTRWP is suspected to be one of the modes for mining without having to arrange a principle permit.

In addition, lowering the status of protected forest areas in the RTRWP is also suspected to reduce costs from mining activities. This was conveyed when the coalition held a hearing with the DPR’s Commission IV last July 12.

“ Un erground mining costs a lot. So if you want open mining , it must be downgraded to a production forest area. It is suspected that (the proposal) is to be able to carry out mining activities there,” said Dedy Sukmara, Director of Information and Data for Auriga Nusantara in his presentation.

This is reinforced by the study of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources ( ESDM ). The study stated that   underground mining requires four times more capital and operations than open pit mining.

Apart from mining, the palm oil business is also expected to benefit the most from this RTRWP. This is because the coalition found that around 3,824 hectares of the proposed area was already a stretch of oil palm.

“This is really outsmarting. Because it’s in a forest area. Both nature reserves and protected forests are not in APL (other use areas),” said Hilman.

About 16 palm oil companies operating in this area do not have forest area release permits. He suspects that this revision is another way of bleaching out oil palm plantations in forest areas apart from going through the scheme of Articles 110 A and 110 B of the Job Creation Law.

Bleaching through this RTRW, he said, clearly benefits companies because they do not have to pay administrative fines as required in Articles 110 A and 110 B of the Job Creation Law.

“What we want is law enforcement. They are the guilty party because they are active in the forest area,” said Hilman.

Allegations of benefiting the palm oil sector were also revealed during the Coalition’s hearing with the DPR. One of the indications is that 98% of the proposed forest area release of 138,021 hectares is in industrial plantation forest areas.

Dedy said that companies with forest concession rights (HPH) or HTI do not release forest areas. This is because their obligation is to reforest the area with plantation forests.

“The analysis is already under way. Most of (the released land) is land clearing for this year. So, ‘bleaching’ could be the most appropriate sentence,” said Dedy.Sacrifice society and biodiversity

Community and conservation interests in the East Kalimantan RTRWP are considered to be minimal. The coalition found that only 13% or 94,404 hectares of land as objects of agrarian reform and an indicative map of social forestry areas are accommodated in the RTRWP.

The Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA) noted that there are still more than 300 villages that are claimed to be included in forest areas but have missed being finalized in this RTRWP.

Inequality in land tenure in East Kalimantan is still high. From agricultural census data, KPA found that only 180,000 hectares were controlled by farmers who controlled 0.5 hectares to 2.9 hectares.

“Meanwhile, land for plantations, mining and HTI can reach up to 11.6 million hectares,” said Junarcia Molisna Naibaho from the KPA Campaign and Knowledge Management Department.

He questioned East Kalimantan’s generosity towards the community. In the last five years, KPA has recorded 40 agrarian conflict eruptions in this province.

Completion of agrarian reform in East Kalimantan tends to be slow. Only 119.4 hectares of relinquishment of forest area claims could be made available to the community for more than eight years.

Compared to society, he said, companies have received too many privileges. The RTRWP for East Kalimantan further strengthens this because several companies facilitated in the Spatial Planning have carried out land grabbing for the past six years.

Not to mention, he said, this revision is increasingly threatening the biodiversity of key animals such as the Sumatran rhinoceros ( Dicerorhinus sumatrensis ) and the Bornean orangutan ( Pongo pygmaeus ). Based on the coalition’s records, 64% or 467,792 hectares of the total proposed RTRWP is orangutan habitat.

While the condition of the Sumatran rhino is more dire. About 100% or around 78,712 hectares of remaining habitat in East Kalimantan is included in the RTRWP proposal.

Timer Manurung, Chairman of Yayasa Auriga Nusantara in the RDPU with the DPR said conservationists in Central East Kalimantan proposed this area to become a wildlife reserve. This is done because this area is the only Sumatran rhino habitat in Kalimantan.

Quoted from Kaltimpos , the Governor of East Kalimantan, Isran Noor, dismissed the allegation of releasing forest areas in the RTRW. On the other hand, he claims, the revision of the RTRW actually increases the status of forest areas that were not previously protected in the previous regional regulations.

The determination of the East Kalimantan RTRW for the next 20 years, he said, would not threaten or displace the ecosystem of endangered species in this province. ” There will be no threats.”

He said that most of the Bornean orangutans at BOSF Samboja, Kutai Kartanegara, had already relocated to Gruti (East Kutai. He also said that the discussion on the revision of the Regional Regulation on the East Kalimantan RTRW went through a long stage starting in 2020 through a review of the East Kalimantan RTRW taking into account changes in laws and regulations, national scale policies, as well as demands for sustainable development.

The 2023–2042 East Kalimantan Regional Spatial Planning Regulation, he said, contains a number of things that have been adjusted, including community proposals and interests for the use of space in East Kalimantan.

Aji Muhammad Fitra Firnanda, Head of Public Works, Spatial Planning, and Public Housing (DPUPR-Pera) of East Kalimantan also answered that he was confused about mining benefiting from the revision of the RTRW.

” Nothing like that, mines and all that. The mine still exists, it is needed in terms of our economic development,” he said.

The revised RTRW for East Kalimantan, he said, was to adjust to current conditions. Especially integrating land space regulated in the RTRW with sea space regulated in the Zoning Plan for Coastal Areas and Small Islands (RZWP3K) of East Kalimantan. This integration was not regulated in the previous East Kalimantan Regional Regulation on RTRW. Including the RTRW of the Capital City of the Archipelago (IKN) which covers parts of North Penajam Paser (PPU) and Kutai Kartanegara (Kukar).

“In fact, a revision is necessary to raise the standard of our RTRW. In it was already arranged, from the pattern to the spatial structure. Which can accommodate all kinds of interests. Because in this RTRW, what is important is harmony and balance between sectors and bringing prosperity to the community. According to power and capacity. Our RTRW no longer talks about land, it also talks about the coast and the sea,” he said.

DPR calls KLHK

Regarding this RTRWP, the DPR said it would summon the KLHK after the recess period. This step is so that the Coalition’s findings can be correlated with data from the ministry.

“Maybe later after the recess period is over we will immediately summon the KLHK,” said Member of Commission IV from the Golkar Party faction Alien Mus in the RDPU.

He considered that the RTRWP formulation process should have involved the community first. Starting from community leaders, traditional leaders, and youth organizations in the region.

For the RTRWP for East Kalimantan, he assessed that the provincial government would immediately make the RTRW and ask for direct approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. 

G Budisatrio Djiwandono, Deputy Chairperson of Commission IV who chaired the meeting, said that he would follow up on the results of this RDPU. He asked the coalition to provide further data in the form of hundreds of villages indicated to be the source of agrarian conflicts.

Furthermore, the East Kalimantan RTRWP is problematic and needs attention. However, he said, based on data from the ATR/BPN Ministry, there are at least 19 RTRWPs with a target of being ratified this year and another six in 2024.

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