KPK to Investigate Illegal Forest Land Use Permits

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) started work on Friday to deal with the rampant illegal issuance of forest use permits by enlisting the help of three relevant ministries.

KPK leaders on Friday held a meeting with Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Mursyidan Baldan to devise a strategy to deal with the issue.

“The KPK asked us to come to map a number of areas of forests, including mining areas, in every city and regency [nationwide]. There has been a real problem of overlapping use of land. On average, provinces have more than 300 [pieces of forest land] for which use permits are held by more than one person,” Tjahjo told reporters at the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday.

Tjahjo said that at the meeting, the KPK and the three ministries agreed to set up a team to issue technical guidance on how to deal with the problems.

The team will also help the KPK and ministries to formulate regulations to prevent more issuances of illegal permits.

“We want to reset [the regulations] to prevent protected forests from being used illegally,” he said.

Tjahjo said that the illegal occupation and use of land needed to be resolved as soon as possible to avoid more conflicts among permit holders and greater state losses.

The government has so far focused on prevention because it did not want to add to the KPK’s burdens.

“The KPK wants to save the land and prevent more problems. We don’t want this to be a burden as [the KPK] already deals with thousands of other cases,” Ferry said after the meeting.

The effort would first focus on preventive measures, Ferry said.

“We touched on that [the state losses] a little but the discussion focused on the prevention because we if we don’t do this, the KPK will have to crack down on the cases and persecute all [people involved],” Siti said.

Siti added that the mess in the issuance of land use permits had taken its toll on indigenous communities.

Overlapping certificates for land use had impacted the lives of indigenous tribes who depended on the forests, Siti said. “The certificate issuance is not under my ministry [but the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry], but it affects the tribes who live in the forests. I need to stand up for their rights,”
she said.

The overlap in the issuance of land certificates, according to Siti, was due to the different rules applied by the three ministries, which had yet to synergize when it came to regulations especially during former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s term.

“[In the field] sometimes it’s hard to implement all the regulations from the different ministries because we had different rules when we formulated them. Now we want to tidy it up,” she said, adding, however, that the task would be enormous.

“There’s even a forest with an airport, housing complexes and schools built illegally in it,” Siti