August 24, 2018

Sanction put in place against Saratoga palm oil company

( - A strict sanction has been imposed on PT Surya Panen Subur (SPS-2), a palm oil company whose concession lies in part of the Leuser Ecosystem, following an instruction from Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya which was the subject of an earlier report by (Aug 14)

This was confirmed by the Ministry’s Law Enforcement Director General Rasio “Roy” Ridho Sani in a discussion forum attended, among other parties, by (Aug 23) at the ministry building.

Roy also explained that the government-compelled sanction details seven environmental and peat-related violations that the palm oil company has been proven to have committed. 

PT SPS-2, whose palm oil concession has been afflicted by numerous peat fires, is situated in the Tripa peat swamps and is a subsidiary of the Amara Group, the palm oil business arm of the Indonesian-listed company PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya Tbk (SRTG)

The Director General, who signed the sanction on behalf of the minister, elaborated further, saying “Our minister has sanctioned PT SPS-2 with seven improvement orders so that the company is brought into legal compliance.”

Peat violation locations 

The sanction stems from Minister Nurbaya's uncovering of peat violations based on field observations in the concession (May 1), which in turn led to the minister writing to the governor of Aceh to tell him to stop the peat violations. 

The governor was provided with two sets of coordinates, as reported by (May 7), as the basis for ending the peat violations, the coverage areas of which involve parts of a peat protection zone.

However, the minister was forced to take law enforcement action herself following inaction and a lack of effectiveness on the part of the governor in stopping the peat violations, as reported again by (Jun 7).

The following Planet Explorer images, presented by the ministry, show the first coordinates (96°31'57.34"E - 3°45'45.04"N - in red) which mark the locations and surrounding areas where the peat violations in the PT SPS-2 concession took place, revealing that they involved a peat protection zone and legally-established high conservation value (HCV) areas.

Meanwhile, the second coordinates (96°31'48.93"E - 3°46'55.68"N - in red) also mark the sites and surrounding areas of peat violations, as pointed out by the ministry. These sites also form part of the peat protection zone and legally-established HCV areas. 

The sanctioning of PT SPS-2 is legally based on a field inspection of the PT SPS-2 concession which produced an inspection report signed, among others, by the company's representatives (Jul 13).

Criminal charges possible

Director General Roy went on to say that there are strong indications PT SPS-2 also perpetrated serious violations which could lead to criminal charges. 

“We are studying these strong indications (of serious violations) in depth. There is in fact strong evidence that opens the door and points to this (criminal charges),” he asserted.

He also explained that the results of his team's investigation into these serious peat violations, which could result in criminal charges being laid against PT SPS-2, would soon be announced to the public, along with other cases.

Prior to this, as also reported by (Aug 3), Minister Siti Nurbaya exposed the misuse of legally-established HCV areas on the part of PT SPS-2, by turning them into palm oil plantations.