Tue, 09 Mar 1999

Indorayon workers want more security

MEDAN, North Sumatra: Employees of pulp and rayon mill PT Inti Indorayon Utama on Monday headed to the provincial council to voice their demands, including that the security forces step up their guard around the plant in Porsea, North Tapanuli.

Security is necessary for planned audits of the controversial plant, blamed by residents and environmental groups for degradation of the environment.

The delegation also demanded an end to what they said was the inappropriate use of religious issues in protests against the plant.

Employees said people reiterating demands that the plant close were imposing their will through intimidation of residents and employees through the use of crowds.

"We face the threat of being unemployed and terrorization from a group of people," employee Darman P. Purba said.

The action came amid continuing protests of residents and activists against the plant. In countering charges the plant is to blame for deforestation in North Tapanuli, employees said Indorayon replanted 45,070 hectares compared to logging 27,313 hectares.

They also denied charges the plant was to blame for a foul odor in the area, citing findings of the Environmental Impact Management Agency. From 1995 to 1997, Indorayon received a blue rating from the clean river program, employees said, meaning it was in the second rank in waste management. Charges that employees abused residents were also denied. (21/anr)