Sat, 17 Oct 2009
From: Reuters
By Sunanda Creagh
JAKARTA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Indonesia's tough new environment law, passed last month and aimed at any firm with an effect on the environment, may take as long as two years to implement, a senior government official said on Friday.

The law allows the government to revoke polluters' business licences, which environmentalists said could lead to more effective enforcement.

Indonesia's rapid economic growth has been accompanied by widespread pollution of its waterways, soil and air, and destruction of forests and wildlife by firms in the mining, timber, palm oil and manufacturing sectors.

Law enforcement remains generally weak in many areas, including the environment, and despite efforts to curb graft, Indonesia ranks as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

According to a draft seen by Reuters, the law requires companies whose operations impact the environment to obtain an environmental licence and undergo an environmental assessment before starting operations. It sets tough fines for polluters.

However, Dana A. Kartakusuma, an assistant Environment Minister, told a mining conference in Jakarta that it could be two years before industry would know exactly what had to be done to comply with the law.

"I foresee that the regulations under this law will be done in one or two years, and the implementation of this law will be executed stage by stage during the next five years," he said in a speech.

Under the law, companies that breach the terms of the new environmental permit could have their operating licences for those projects revoked.

Anyone deliberately polluting the environment could face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to 10 billion rupiah ($1.07 million).

Those two aspects of the law have been welcomed by environmentalists, but Kartakusuma told Reuters it could be a year before details about the environmental permit are released.

"We will target to have it within one year but sometimes it takes longer," he said. "Theoretically, companies have to comply with the new law, but in order to implement it we need the government regulations. On that we have to wait."

The environmental group Greenpeace has expressed concern that even with the implementing regulations, the law may not be uniformly or strictly enforced. ($1=9350 Rupiah) (Editing by Ron Popeski)



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