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Dispute over flash-flood hit Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra

MEDAN, OCT. 5, 2009 – Overflow disaster that damaged seven (some said six) villages located in Mandailing Natal district, North Sumatra left several problems that should be managed soon, particularly acted by local government. Recovery and relief program recently obstructed with dispute over major factors that cause the natural disaster — whether it is related to illegal or not.

So far, according to news released by Waspada Online, Forestry Body and North Sumatra police Chief, conveyed that flash flood hit Mandailing Natal not indicating any illegal deforestation.

“We have no finding of land erosion, commonly occurred by reckless deforestation, around post-flood condition in Mandailing Natal,” head of Forestry Body in Mandailing Natal, JB Siringoringo said in Medan, Monday (Sept. 28).

Siringoringo explained that numerous rainfall potential causes the overflow and contributing to excessive river volume eventually.

“Anyway, there are also certain points found in protected forest area possible to bring about the disaster,” Siringoringo added. Unfortunately, Siringoringo refused to detail them.

On other occassion, North Sumatra police Chief, Insp. Gen. Badrodin Haiti told Waspada Online Sunday, flash flood damaged local residents’ houses and properties in Mandailing Natal district, show no indication of illegal logging crime.

“Investigation held by special team — involved detectives and intelligence service — envoyed by provincial police headquarter found logs in post-flooding location swept by the flash overflow,” Haiti said.

On the opposite, Environmental Group Walhi based in North Sumatra deny that amount of logs found around post-torrent strucked those seven villages in Mandailing Natal, belong to timber companies — PT Inanta Timber Ltd. and PT Keang Nam Ltd.

In a conference press held in North Sumatra office in Medan Saturday (Oct. 3), regional executive Syahrul Manik told, it is estimated about 100.000 m3 (cubic) wood logs left in sungai Parlampungan river and sungai Sale Baru river, Mandailing Natal.

Based on observation carried out by North Sumatra Walhi in Sidoar-doar protected forest, PT Inanta Timber Ltd. and PT Keang Nam owned forest concession holders (HPH) around the forest granted by Forestry Department.

“PT Inanta Timber Ltd. got undertaking forest concession business decree SK 301/Kpts-II/99 issued on May 7, 1999 issued by Forestry Department,” Manik said. “Inanta managed 39.121 hectare of the forest, and to cut 46.486 m3 (cubic)/year.”

While PT Keang Nam has had its licensed expired on 2007, Manik added. “In which, it should be noted that Keang Nam belong to Adelin Lis, who is accused over illegal logging crime.”

North Sumatra lawmakers, Kamaluddin Harahap told the same opinion with Walhi that human error contributed to flash downpour occured in Mandailing Natal district.

Harahap questioned Haiti’s statement that those logs found in post-flooding location belong to local community. “It seem impossible, since the wood cutting requires modern devices, while the fact is that local community used to have traditional tools such as axe to cut trees around their village,” Harahap said in an interview with Waspada Online, Sunday (Oct. 4).

Previously, North Sumatra government criticized over higher priority toward West Sumatra temblors rather than recovery and aid distribution program to Mandailing Natal.

Many concerns government inability to halt reckless deforestation may cause following disaster as happened in Mandailing Natal. Despite earthquake, flood and landslide considered could be prevented by firm actions implemented by the government.




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