121 palm oil mills linked to illegal land in Riau


A peatswamp fire in Riau Photo: Mongabay

More than half of palm oil mills in Riau may be linked to illegal plantations, according the chairman of a parliamentary commission in the Sumatran province.

Hazmi Setiadi told a hearing in September that 121 out of 225 companies with mills did not hold any legal rights to land to produce raw materials.

“These 121 mills then don’t have plantations,” he told a hearing with Commission III of the House of Representatives. “If they’ve got a factory, but they don’t have a permit for a plantation, then where do they get the fruit from?”

Hazmi alleged that the 121 companies had illegally cleared forests, and were mostly located on the fringes of the ‘forest zone’. He claimed that 2.2 million hectares of forests in Riau had been cleared illegally to produce palm oil.

Hazmi linked illegal forest conversion to the land fires that wrack Indonesia each year, and which are particularly bad in Riau. He proposed that identifying illegal mills offered potential to crack down on the problem.

The Vice Chairman of Commission III, Benny K Harman, described the encroachment as “corporate crimes”.

Source: CNN Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia)

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