Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Indonesian ministry checks environment permits

The Indonesian State Ministry of Environment intends to revoke the licenses of mining firms operating in the country's four Borneo provinces that do not have environmental impact analysis documents (known as Amdal). The ministry was granted the authority to revoke business permits by the new Environmental Law of 2009.

As authority to issue Amdal had been designated to local administrations, the ministry’s authority to intervene had previously been restricted. However Article 77 of the new law stipulates the environment minister can impose administrative sanctions on business owners and their activities if local administrations intentionally fail to deal with serious environmental violations. Article 111 stipulates that officials who issue environmental permits without Amdal will be subject to a maximum three years in jail and/or a Rp 3 billion fine.

“We have sent a fact-finding team to South Kalimantan [province] to check whether coal mining firms have secured Amdal,” the ministry’s deputy for spatial planning, Hermien Rosita, told Adianto Simamora of The Jakarta Post. “The team will also verify if mining firms have complied with the Amdal papers.”

She said the office also planned to send another team to East Kalimantan province to assess the coal mining companies operating in the area. East Kalimantan only has 19.8 million hectares of land, but provincial and local government officials have granted overlapping permits, mainly to mining and plantation firms in about 21.7 million hectares.

Amdal papers are basic documents to determine whether business activities are environmentally feasible in a particular area. The documents are required for the issuance of business permits. Since the implementation of regional autonomy, local administrations have been authorized to manage natural resources in their area.

A study from the state environment ministry showed that only a quarter of the country’s local governments have set up Amdal commissions to issue the document.

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