An oil palm plantation company has claimed that 150 hectares of its land planted with oil palm trees have been damaged and about 50 hectares of a nearby forest reserve have been illegally logged by an Occupation Ticket (OT) licence holder in recent months.
A spokesman from Sebekai Plantation Sdn Bhd (Sebekai) told The Borneo Post that a short-term licence under OT/4479 was issued to Dynamic Sungreen Sdn Bhd in Oct 2015 to enable the licensee to carry out clearing of gazetted Native Customary Rights (NCR) land at Lavang Forest Reserve (Lavang FR) in Bintulu.
“Instead of clearing the forest area within the areas as approved under its OT licence, our observation shows that the company had encroached on the nearby Lavang FR with at least 50 hectares being illegally logged out and also damaging or destroying about 150 hectares of Sebekai Plantation where about 10,000 oil palm trees were planted,” he said.
The spokesman said the activities of this company had gone undetected by the government agencies although the location of these illegal activities and encroachment was only about 5km from the Bintulu-Miri trunk road.
The spokesman said they already lodged a police report on Jan 11 at the Bintulu police station against the intruders.
He said heavy machinery from Dynamic Sungreen had encroached into their land and uprooted their palm tree which were planted seven years ago.
“They have bulldozed and cleared all the area, leaving it barren without any tree left. Their motive is to steal the land and work together with the Kampong Yok natives who are doing clearing at Block 46, 47 and 48 outside our plantation,” stated the police report which was sighted by The Borneo Post.
Subsequently, Sebekai wrote a letter to ‘Director of Forests’ on Jan 24 for their immediate investigation together with a copy of the police report. A copy of the said letter and aerial pictures had also been made available to The Borneo Post.
“The encroachment is in two locations as shown on the aerial pictures and we estimate about 3,000 oil palm trees (as at Dec 2 last year) have either been damaged or destroyed based on our ground investigation,” the letter stated.
The spokesman said it was a clear-cut case of encroachment and his side have all the facts to prove it.
“This company has its own area to do logging and we do not know why they are so daring and openly encroached into our area which is beyond the Lavang FR. We tried to talk to them over the issue but they refused to entertain us.”
The spokesman said it was also very ironic that the illegal activities was conducted inside the gazetted NCR land – the boundary of which had been demarcated by the Land and Survey Department.
“Furthermore, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has issued a PEC to OT/4479 and thus the coupe/licence boundary would have been checked on the ground before endorsement for clearing of the forest is given.
“How is it possible then for Dynamic Sungreen to go beyond its own licence boundary to commit illegal logging in Lavang FR and also encroached into Sebekai?” the spokesman said, questioning the efficiency of the government agencies in managing and controlling the logging operations of OT/4479 licence holder (Dynamic Sungreen).
Describing Sebekai Plantation as a victim, he said the state government’s decision to allow operators of short-term OT licences to extract timber or clear forest, especially over NCR land, had created more controversy and adverse publicity on the state of affairs over the issuance of new timber licences in Sarawak.
The spokesman added that several incidents had occurred which proved that the issuance of short-term OT licences by the state Forest Department was a ‘nuisance’ as it only encouraged illegal logging and other illegal activities by unscrupulous people working in cahoots with the locals on the pretext of developing NCR land.
“On many occasions, holders of these short-term OT licences would abuse their permits for their own selfish benefits.
“Therefore to control this menace and eradicate illegal logging, the state government should not allow the issuance of short-term OT licences for extraction or clearing of forest land, especially over NCR land,” he said.
Not long ago, the spokesman said, a similar incident occurred at Ulu Nyemah, Kanowit, which had become a controversy.
The spokesman also described the issuance of these short-term OT licences as detrimental to the original purpose of facilitating and clearing for development purposes as mentioned by the Permanent Secretary of Resource Planning and Environment in December last year.
When contacted, state Forest Department director Sapuan Ahmad confirmed that there was encroachment into Lavang FR with a clearing of about 41.5 hectares.
Sapuan forwarded a WhatsApp message from his ground staff explaining that the Penans from Kampung Yok, Mile 32 Bintulu-Miri Road had claimed that part of the forest reserve was their titled NCR land for a project from the Agriculture Department to plant rubber using a company named Penan Maju Wasangjaya.
“The clearing/extraction of logs (was) done in September 2016 under OT/4479. This is outside the licence area for OT/4479,
which had expired in August 2016.”
Sapuan, however, denied the encroachment into Sebekai Plantation, saying that the report by the plantation company was inaccurate.
“The checking shows no encroachment by the licensee (OT/4479) (Dynamic Sungreen) into Sebekai Plantation,” he added.
Source : @ Borneo Post Online