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Jakarta Post

Walhi appeals court verdict on Batang Toru dam

  • Kharishar Kahfi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, March 13, 2019   /   07:45 pm
Walhi appeals court verdict on Batang Toru dam Rare sighting: Twin babies of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan species hang onto their mother in a tree in Batang Toru forest, North Sumatra. According to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP), twin births generally happen in captivity and rarely in the wild. (Courtesy of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program/File)

​​​​Environmental group Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has appealed a court verdict rejecting their lawsuit challenging the issuance of a permit for a hydropower project in the Batang Toru ecosystem in North Sumatra.

On March 4, the Medan State Administrative Court rejected Walhi’s lawsuit challenging the North Sumatra administration’s decision to issue a permit for the Rp 22 trillion (US$1.5 billion) project because of its potential impacts on the environment, especially on the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutans that live in and around the ecosystem.

The appeal petition was filed on Wednesday by Walhi’s North Sumatra office director Dana Prima Tarigan, who was accompanied by a number of lawyers.

“This is our attempt to continue the fight for environmental justice for the sake of the ecosystem and the animals and humans living within it,” Dana said on Wednesday in a statement.

He added that the organization would also use other legal methods to ensure the project was scrapped.

“This is also a way for the provincial administration to fix their permit issuance mechanism, so that information will be more transparent and accessible to the general public,” Dana said.

Environmentalists and activists argue the project, which will produce 510 megawatts of electricity for North Sumatra and has been touted as “environmentally friendly”, will threaten the rare Tapanuli orangutans. According to scientists, only 800 remain in the wild.

The power plant operator, PT North Sumatra Hydro Energy, has denied the allegations.