Activists welcome NTT governor's plan to halt mining

Markus Makur

The Jakarta Post

Flores, East Nusa Tenggara

Jakarta, posted: Mon, September 10, 2018 | 06:02 pm

East Nusa Tenggara Governor Viktor B. Laiskodat (left) and Deputy Governor Josef Nae Soi after the ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Sept. 5. (Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

Environmental activists welcomed new East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat's plan to halt mining in the province, but they warn that serious follow-up is needed to protect the environment.

The activists responded to Viktor's statement on Wednesday after being sworn in as the new governor at the Presidential Palace. "I will put mining on a moratorium," Viktor said as quoted by kompas.com.

He said during the moratorium, he and a special team would examine whether all the mining activities were already in accordance with the regulations. Viktor did not specify whether he would stop issuing new licenses or halt all mining activities for ones that are in operation.

He said the province would instead focus on agriculture and husbandry. 

Director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) of NTT, Umbu Wulang, said the promise deserved appreciation as it was in line with environmental conservation. 

“We still need to see whether the NTT administration is serious and really has the courage to stop a planned smelter [connected to a mining activity]," Wulang told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Wulang said the previous administration had agreed to the construction of a smelter belonging to a mining company.

Wulang urged the new governor to give the public the widest opportunity to participate in the monitoring during the moratorium period to ensure environmental protection and that mining investors who have no regard for the environment do not return to the province. 

As of early 2018, 309 mining licenses have been issued in NTT to operate in 17 regencies across the province, Walhi said. (swa/evi)

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