Students of the Faculty of Forestry, Papua State University (UNIPA) joined in Silva Branch Manokwari, urged the PT. Medco Papua Hijau Selaras (MPHS) is responsible for material losses suffered by the people of Wariwori and Mansaburi villages, in the Masni District.

A number of UNIPA students packed the pages of the Manokwari Regency DPRD office on March 3, 2014, in a flood awareness event that hit Mansaburi village and Wariori village in Masni district, Manokwari district, West Papua. As a result of the flood, at least 700 people suffered almost 2 weeks in refugee camps because they lost their property, 139 houses and hundreds of livestock belonging to residents were dragged down by the floods, and about 13 hectares of farmland were damaged. This flood was the first experience for local indigenous people after about 6 years MPHS operated in the region. PT. Medco Papua Hijau Selaras (MPHS) allegedly contributed to the source of the disaster that struck the two villages.

This action was an initiative of the Manokwari UNIPA Faculty of Forestry students who were members of the Manokwari SILVA (Indonesian Forestry Student Association). As is known, on February 16, 2014 there was a flood in Wariori River, many victims from Mansaburi village were forced to be evacuated to safer places. Wariori village was also affected by the overflow, this was related to the presence of oil palm plantations PT. MPHS where the river crosses its oil palm plantation area.

Students urge PT. MPHS is responsible for material losses suffered by the people of Wariori and Mansaburi villages, in the Masni District. In addition to extreme weather factors, land clearing for oil palm areas that do not comply with the procedure causes this disaster to occur. PT. MPHS is considered to have violated environmental regulations because it cleared the forest to the banks of the Wariwori River and several tributaries in the Masni region. In accordance with environmental regulations, the forest in the river boundary (DAS) must be maintained, a minimum radius of 100 meters for large rivers and 50 meters for creeks may not be cut down. AMDAL of oil palm plantations PT. This MPHS was very questionable by the students who held the action.

The pressure on the Regional Government was also conveyed in this action, in order to immediately take certain actions according to the government’s authority on the PT. MPHS is suspected to be fatal. “We found the fact that the forest was cut down to the mouth of the river. Even oil palm is planted in the sand. For this reason, we ask the Government to take a firm stand against MPHS, “said the action coordinator, Carles Seroyer at the Regent’s office.

In this action, students submitted three points of statement: first, asking the Regional Government of Manokwari Regency and DPRD to strictly oversee all permits that had been issued for all companies operating in Manokwari; second, the Regional Government does not allow the opening of forest areas, especially in disaster-prone areas, including in protected areas; third, asking the Regional Government to facilitate the meeting of PT. MPHS with flood victims related to their damaged land affected by floods.

Responding to the demands of students, Regent of Manokwari Dr. Bastian Salabay, MTh said that his party would not remain silent regarding the floods that had befallen its citizens in the Masni District. Direct handling of victims has been carried out since the disaster occurred. The Regent explained that starting from evacuating victims to safe places, taking care of them during the evacuation to return residents to their homes. Moreover, the Manokwari district government has also carried out early treatment to prevent aftershocks, given the unfriendly weather conditions. Namely normalizing the flow of Kali Wariwori by cooperating with PT. MPHS as the manager of oil palm plantations at that location.

Chairman of Commission C of the Manokwari Regency DPRD, Abdurahman Mangati, who also received the demonstrators from Silva-UNIPA also said that his party would call on the relevant agencies to be asked to explain the steps to handle the floods that had been carried out. While a member of the Manokwari DPRD Commission A, Imam Muslim, on that occasion explained that regarding the alleged environmental violations by MPHS, the DPRD had protested several years ago after receiving reports of deforestation to the banks of the river.

The DPRD plans to propose the establishment of an investigation team to ensure whether or not the damage to the environment in Masni is true as an impact of the presence of the oil palm company, with the hope that if there is indeed a violated boundary, it is the company’s obligation to replant the area in the river border and the company must be responsible for the process management of oil palm plantations that are not in accordance with the AMDAL.

Action coordinator Charles Sroyer stressed, “The Manokwari Government must immediately take action to prevent the possibility of an even worse impact. We urge that land clearing be confirmed and selective in giving licenses to plantations so that such incidents do not recur especially in recent times the weather in Manokwari is still poor. In addition, Medco must take full responsibility for material losses experienced by the local community, “said Sroyer.

*** JASOIL activist in Papua – Demmy Safe Land