Thu, 30 Aug 2001

Land for forest squatters

DONGGALA, Central Sulawesi: In effort to save the environment, the Donggala regency administration in Central Sulawesi has made a total of 1,200 hectares of land available for 1,030 people squatting in Dongidongi, an area in the protected Lore Lindu National Park.

Donggala regent Nabi Bidja said on Tuesday that the squatters must leave the park vicinity this year.

The plot at the Ntongoa valley would only be given to those who don't have any land, he said.

"I have instructed the regency Land Agency to carefully select squatters whom will be given land. Those who have land will not get a new plot."

The squatters claim to be the heirs of the Dongidongi ancestral land.

Regent Nabi said, however, that all the squatters were residents of Donggala. "Administratively the people belong to Donggala regency, while the Dongidongi land is located in the Poso regency. Donggala administration is obliged to find new land for them."

Nabi said that stern measures would be taken against those who resisted the order to leave Dongidongi. "I have asked Donggala and Central Sulawesi Provincial Police to take firm action against stubborn squatters."

C. Sulawesi Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Sugianto said that the police should be very careful before fulfilling the regent's request. (24/sur)