Batang Toru Power Plant Threatens Life of Tapanuli Orangutan



Mahinda Arkiyasa

  • Font:
  • Ukuran Font: - +
  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Foundation for Sustainable Ecosystem (Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari - YEL) voiced high concerns about the existence of orangutan in Tapanuli, North Sumatra that was under threat due to a dam construction. The construction is part of the Batang Toru hydropower plant (PLTA) project managed by PT North Sumatera Hydro Energi (NSHE) in South Tapanuli.

    YEL manager Burhanuddin said in a press release dated Wednesday, May 1, 2019, that the project -valued at IDR 21 trillion- threatens the ecosystem in Batang Toru, a home for biodiversity.

    According to him, the land acquisition for the construction of the 510 megawatt-capacity plant potentially breaks the corridor or crossing path for rare species from the west block to the east and south block.

    The obstruction of the crossing was also feared to threaten the population and breeding of 800 orangutans.

    In addition, PLTA Batang Toru would also trigger an earthquake and threaten rare species in the area including Rafflesia arnoldi flower, the Sumatran tiger, tapir, hornbill, and others species.

    "The PLTA Dam is built near tectonic fault area and if an earthquake occurs, it is might result in floods that fatally damage either the life of human and wild species in the region," Burhanuddin underlined.

    The senior environment advisor of PT NSHE, Dr. Agus Djoko Ismanto, told Antara on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, that the YEL excessively voiced and fabricated its concerns related to the plant.

    "The strategic national project of PLTA Batang Toru that aims to support new renewable energy to reduce carbon emission has undergone intensive, scientific, and professional study," Agus said.

    To preserve the biodiversity, Batang Toru plant that was built in the non-forest area (APL) was in coordination with Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and the R&D Center of Environment and Forestry (R&D Center).

    Based on the R&D Center's data, there was around 120 to 150 orangutan in the east block, 360 to 400 orangutan in the west block, and 15 to 27 orangutan in the south block. PT NSHE carried out strategies to anticipate the species mitigation such as constructing an arboreal bridge to facilitate the species crossing the opened areal due to the project.

    Meanwhile, NSHE expert staff Didiek Djawardi said PLTA Batang Toru was not constructed above the cesarean section and was built to be resistance to earthquake. "PLTA Batang Toru has been through required studies on quake including geology and geophysics, such as hazard assessment and seismic hazard analysis," Didiek concluded.