March 14, 2019

Batang Toru dam project review results eagerly awaited

( - Unrelenting pressure by a local-global CSO coalition to get the Bank of China to stop financing the Batang Toru hydroelectric project’s development has led to the bank releasing notes in which it promises to carefully review the project.

Without these efforts on the part of the CSO coalition, there would undoubtedly have been no reaction at all from the Bank of China as the project’s financer in terms of evaluating the project.

In September last year, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya conveyed key concerns in a letter sent to Batang Toru hydroelectric project developer PT NSHE, as previously reported by

The letter asserted that there was no comprehensive analysis in PT NSHE’s Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) document on the presence and protection of the Tapanuli orangutans and their habitat.

The letter also presented evidence revealing that some Tapanuli orangutan individuals had moved out to community plantations as a result of the fragmentation of their habitat due to the operations of the hydroelectric project development.

The two photos below depict the fragmentation of the Tapanuli orangutans’ habitat caused by the hydroelectric project’s operations. There was a request that the AMDAL document for this development be corrected, as detailed in the minister’s letter. 

The key concerns expressed in the minister’s letter, pertaining to the absence of comprehensive protection given to the Tapanuli orangutans owing to the shortcomings of PT NSHE’s AMDAL document, need to be evaluated by the Bank of China. 

In its forthcoming review, the Bank of China certainly has to look at ground-based evidence demonstrating that the Tapanuli orangutans’ habitat has indeed been fragmented, as also pointed out in the minister’s letter. 

The fragmentation of the Tapanuli orangutans’ habitat has been allowed to happen by the presence of an AMDAL document which shows no concern for the protection of these orangutans. As such, the results of the Bank of China’s evaluation are eagerly awaited.

The following two photos represent evidence that some Tapanuli orangutans have moved from their own habitat, fragmented because of PT NSHE’s operations, to community plantations, as previously reported by in September last year. 

Bank of China, in its capacity as the hydroelectric project’s source of funding, needs to address the minister's letter to PT NSHE which proves that the project’s AMDAL document affords no comprehensive protection to the Tapanuli orangutans and their habitat. 

This is not about supporting or not supporting the project review, but about highlighting the fact that the ongoing hydroelectric project is underpinned by an AMDAL document that provides no clear protection to the Tapanuli orangutans, as disclosed in the minister’s letter.