Owned by the palm oil giant GAR, PT Bangun Nusa -PT BNM- Mandiri started operating in Ketapang district in 2008. In the Environmental Impact Assessment carried out prior to its establishment, many potential damages are listed, such as the transformation of natural landscape, water and air degradation, risk of fires, soil erosion, local fauna and flora disturbance, sanitation problem and land disputes. There is no reference to the impact that palm oil plantations will have on food security and traditional livelihoods.
The majority of the people living within the plantation area indigenous Dayak. They are garden-farmers, based on what they gather form the forest –their livelihoods are dependent on the rainforest and the rivers.
The area allocated to PT BNM was previously used collectively by the indigenous communities.
The case of Silat Hulu village: relations between different Dayak communities living in the town were satisfactorily regulated by customary rules prior to the establishment of PT BNM. In 2008, conflicts arose when communities were evicted from there (an area of circa 350 ha to plan oil palm platations). Despite under customary laws land must not be sold to third parties and the obvious rejection to give away their lands by the Dayak peoples, land clearing for palm oil establishment took place anyway on different occasions . Peaceful demands from the communities were repeatedly ignored, and a big protest was organized on September 2009. The company machinery was damaged, to demand for compensation and respect for customary rights.
The Silat Hulu communities accused the company of degrading customary territory, destroying planted crops and fruit gardens, trespassing on communities’ territory without permission and notification, intentionally neglecting the authority of the customary chief, hoarding farm fields owned by Silat Hulu residents and destroying valuable trees and forest –i.e. violating customary law. The conflict was deemed solved when in November 2009 the company paid for all the grievances, thus acknowledging its guiltiness.
In another occasion, two activists –Japin and Vitalis Andi- were brought to court, accused of damaging the plantations. They were initially found guilty, but after several appeals and partially thanks to the support of PILNET, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia ruled on their favour and reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Silat Hulu .
The Ketapang government has neglected protection of Constitutional rights of indigenous communities in several occasions.
Indigenous communities in PT BNM have complained about the destruction and contamination of water streams that are basic for their subsistence. Moreover, they reported not being invited to the environmental assessment of the plantation of oil palm. The company informed the communities about the planned operations and their impacts, but it never consulted them.
Despite the requirement to have resolution processes in place in all company holding’s to grant certification in any of the plantations, some GAR holdings were granted RSPO certification, ignoring the existing conflicts derived from forced evictions and crop damage in Silat Hulu and other communities within PT BNM.
Up to date, the land has not been returned to the local communities and conflicts continue within the concession .