Sihaporas is an area lived and occupied by one of the Batak clan: Ambarita that originated from Samosir Island and spread out to five sub-village. Their livelihood in Siharporas, a village part of District of Sidamanik in Simalungun regency is primarily based on farming and have been living for more than a century.
PT Toba Pulp Lestari Tbk (TPL) has been operating in Simalungun Regency from the year 1992. Since then, TPL has been fully aware of any sustainability impact (grievances) caused by the operation to the community/village as grievances were raised by the community to TPL. Over time, grievances have been amicably resolved through TPL’s grievance mechanism process resulting in consulting with the community as well as in collaboration with the local government. TPL has been rectifying all grievances raised by the Sihaporas community and has prioritized in strengthening a healthy and sustainable relationship with them.
As a responsible company involved in managing sustainable plantations in North Sumatra, TPL seeks to provide meaningful livelihoods for our employees and deliver positive impacts to the communities in our areas of operations. Where there is land ownership contention in some parts of our operational areas, we adopt the approach of open dialogue in collaboration with local government, seeking out peaceful resolutions with legitimate representatives of concerned communities, and acting in accordance to Indonesian government’s law and regulations.
Sadly, a conflict occurred in September 2019 and led to a criminal case as two sub-village community decided to show resistance without any amicable consultation by planting into TPL’s operating concession illegally. The aforementioned, protest occurred when a group of “villagers” (group) sought permission from one of TPL’s plantation security staff to cross TPL’s plantation to attend a wedding in another area. Out of goodwill, they were allowed access. Instead, they continued to TPL’s concession area and started planting their crops on TPL’s land that was cleared for replanting. TPL employees rushed to the scene when the security staff alarmed via phone call. During the discussion between the group and TPL employees, a member from the group hit a TPL employee with a wooden bat when the discussion got heated up. This prompted others in the group to start hitting other TPL employees with bats and hoes. About eight of TPL employees suffered injuries and had to be brought to the nearest clinic and later to a medical center (Vita Insani Hospital) in Pemantang Siantar for treatment.
In this whole episode, while the group claimed that they were all from Sihaporas village, investigations by the police revealed that the group consisted of several non-Sihaporas members; including members of Lamtoras which the Simalungun Regent Government has confirmed is a non-registered community organization.
TPL respects the rule of law and the court’s verdict on this criminal case. TPL will not allow this isolated incident by a few individuals deter TPL from its continuous engagement with Sihaporas villagers. This event was truly disheartening for both TPL and Siharporas community due to its unforeseen circumstances.
TPL will continue its sustainable commitments towards making a positive impact and managing challenges through its grievances mechanism system. These approach with communities and mediation involving relevant government agencies; Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), Social Forestry and Environmental Partnership (PSKL), North Sumatra Forestry Service (Dishutsu), to Forest Management Units (KPH) is align with the requirements defined in the permit held by TPL as mandated by Social Forestry and determined by the government through the Minister of Forestry Decree No.83 / MenLhk / Setjen / KUM.1 /10/2016.
Over the years, TPL has delivered various Social Economic Environment Development (SEED) programs and provided financial support to Sihaporas Village for various development programs. TPL’s SEED initiatives focus on Empowerment Program which covers the fields of Education and Culture, Health, Social Investment (Infrastructure, sanitation, provision of clean water facilities), Social, Job Creation and Skills Development, and Employee Voluntary Field.
These initiatives are a form of TPL’s sustainability strategy and responsible business operator, for the community surrounding its operation.
TPL has channeled SEED funds to communities through proposals received from the results of the ‘Village Conference’, and listed below are some examples of SEED program:
Along with Sihaporas, TPL has channeled its SEED programs and/or financial suport across 10 districts namely Toba, North Tapanuli, Humbang Hasundutan, Samosir, Dairi, Pakpak Bharat, Simalungun, South Tapanuli, North Padang Lawas, and Asahan, for the last 17 years. TPL will continue its efforts in making an impact that matters.