Celukan Bawang residents enraged over power plant
The problems with land acquisition for the north Bali Celukan Bawang coal fired-steam power plant have been ongoing for five years, with the latest meeting seeing dozens of villagers become enraged and set blockades at every entry road heading to the mega project site.
The fury of the Celukan Bawang fishing village residents in Gerokgak district was triggered by the failure of the village head, H. Muhajir, to obtain the promised settlement, despite numerous negotiation meetings with the plant’s operator, PT General Energy Bali (GEB).
“For the past five years, we have been given promises by the company. We have had 48 negotiation meetings, but we have never reached any resolution,” a local resident at the site of the power plant said on Friday.
The blockade will not be removed until the project’s investors issue the settlement.
Having been relocated from their village, the 150 families were demanding the land certificates for the two mosques and a school building, which were promised in replacement for those that had been demolished for the mega project. In addition, the village graveyard, where residents’ ancestors are buried, has not yet been moved.
“This has been going on for too long and our patience has a limit,” said one of the elders of the village and former village head, M. Haerudi, adding that even public facilities that had been promised by GEB had never been realized.
Village head Muhajir had previously promised that the certificates for the acquired land would be completed by July 19. However, during a recent meeting, Muhajir announced another postponement. Hearing the announcement, a villager yelled and almost hit Muhajir’s head with a chair. Afterwards, the villagers walked out of the meeting in unison and immediately put up barricades around the site of the power plant, effectively bringing to a halt the ongoing construction work. The villagers and the construction workers almost fought.
The power plant, located about 20 kilometers west of Singaraja, is a joint project worth Rp 7 trillion (US$ 742 million) between GEB and a Chinese investor, China Huadian Engineering Corporation Ltd. (CHEC).
Buleleng Regent Putu Bagiada laid a stone during the groundbreaking ceremony for the power plant project late in 2010.