Firms given two years to come clean

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post

The government has warned companies operating without environmental
standards
to start complying with environmental regulations, giving them a
two-year grace period before it starts revoking business permits.

Companies without environmental impact assessment (EIA) have until October
2011
to submit an environmental audit.

“Two years is more than enough time for companies to prepare an
environmental audit,” Ilyas Asaad, an environmental compliance official at
the Environment Ministry said Thursday.

The audit will assess businesses’ levels of compliance with government
policies to protect the environment.

“If they fail to meet the deadline, the companies will be deemed as
operating illegally. We will impose sanctions as stipulated in the 2009
Environmental Law,” he said.

Ilyas said there were thousands companies believed to be operating without
EIAs.

The need for an environmental audit is stipulated in the 2009 Environmental
Law, which says that if businesses fail to fulfill their obligations on
environmental audits, the Environment Ministry can assign an independent
auditor to assess the company.

The ministry is currently drafting a decree on the audit for companies
without EIAs that have been operating since before the law came into effect
in 2009.

Ilyas said small-scale companies operating without the environmental
management scheme
(UKL) and the environmental monitoring scheme (UPL) should
also submit environmental audits.

The EIA, UKL and UPL are required to determine whether business activities
are environmentally feasible in a particular area.

The EIA contains analysis of the expected impact of business activity in the
area and the plans to manage and monitor environmental aspects.

The documents are required for the issuance of environmental permits, which
are used to secure the business license.

The law stipulates officials who issue business permit without environmental
licenses could face a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a Rp 3
billion fine.

Activists, including from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi)
and the Indonesia Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) have repeatedly asked
the government to enforce the 2009 law to help protect the environment.

Preliminary findings by the Environment Ministry of small-scale mining firms
in Kalimantan found that most of the companies didn’t have EIAs.

But no action has been taken a month after Environment Minister Gusti
Muhammad Hatta made an unscheduled visit to examine illegal mining in
Kalimantan.

Kalimantan, the province with the richest coal deposits, has long been under
pressure to better regulate the huge and overlapping licenses awarded to
companies to exploit coal.

Data from the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) showed nine regents in South
Kalimantan province
granted principal permits to 229 mining companies,
allowing them to mine for coal in 200,000 hectares of the protected Meratus
forest.

It said East Kalimantan, with only 19.8 million hectares of land, granted
overlapping permits, mainly to mining and plantation firms covering 21.7
million hectares.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/03/12/firms-given-two-years-come-clean.html

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