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Borneo, Environment, Indonesia

Kalimantan villagers lodge land claim in BHP Billiton coal project

Blockade by villagers in Murung Raya regency, Central Kalimantan, angry with mining companies operating in the area. Photo: Jenny Denton

Jakarta Globe, 14 June 2015
: Villagers in remote Central Kalimantan have lodged a claim for legal title to 1,000 hectares of land within BHP Billiton’s vast IndoMet coal project area under a new land rights scheme in the province.

The residents of Maruwei, one of the closest villages to IndoMet’s “first stage” Haju mine, have mapped the boundaries of the 1,000-hectare area in question using GPS and computerized mapping systems, and submitted detailed documentation of the claim to the Central Kalimantan government on Friday.

With the Haju mine due to start operating in August, Maruwei’s headman described the process of preparing the claim as a “race” to preserve this section of the community’s customary land, which is used for cultivating rice, rubber and crops.

“When BHP comes, it will be a restricted area,” headman Suwanto tells the Jakarta Globe, through an interpreter. “So we have to race against BHP to claim this land under the Dayak Misik scheme.”

Dayak Misik, introduced by the Central Kalimantan government in 2014, is a program that aims to recognize the customary land rights of the province’s indigenous Dayak inhabitants by delivering title for 10 hectares of land to every village for communal use and five hectares to each household.

The success of the program will depend on the national government agreeing to excise the customary land from forestry estates and certify communities’ ownership.

While the national government has so far proven more interested in supporting companies it has issued concessions to than local communities, commentators believe the Dayak Misik scheme, together with an inventory of customary land rights that the Central Kalimantan government has been compiling with NGOs and Dayak communities, will strengthen the communities’ position in relation to their land rights.

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