The environmental coalition Jikalahari and the network of local communities of Riau province, JMGR, have sent two letters to banks, one each to Credit Suisse and ABN Amro, to share some concerns over what is happening on the ground in APRIL’s concessions in the Riau Province (in Sumatra, Indonesia). Credit Suisse has committed to help its customer APRIL to deliver a visible change in its activities. ABN Amro also has business with APRIL, and last May was involved in a new deal with this company for US$800 million, through a syndicated loan.
According to the local communities, the APRIL group and its subsidiary PT RAPP has been so far unable to implement its own policy, to comply with regulations in Indonesia regarding peat protection and peat management or to implement regulations regarding setting aside areas for local communities’ livelihood trees.
APRIL subsidiaries illegally keep building canals, planting in burned peatlands that should be restored, and even forbidding official inspection teams to visit their concessions. Social conflicts with local communities are not being addressed, as the company promised they would be, and its agreements are violated by the plantation companies.
Furthermore, business-as-usual peat management is draining large areas of peatlands in the Kampar peninsula, releasing huge amounts of CO2 every year and creating risks of new waves of fires. Last year’s peat fires caused the death of 5 Riau residents; 3 of which were children, and more than 87,000 people suffered from respiratory diseases, while the county suffered $935m of damage. Six APRIL subsidiaries have been investigated by the Police Department in relation with the fires, but still the company has failed to stop draining peat. This practice will also cause soil subsidence, leading to extensive flooding in the rainy season, while the dry season is affected by fires.
The civil society groups have asked the banks to make sure that their clients will be able to prove full compliance with laws and regulations, to promptly address social conflicts and to stop draining peat.