The Jakarta Post
The Public Works Ministry is accelerating the Rp 4 trillion ( US$408 million ) Jatigede Dam project in Sumedang, West Java, as part of the government's food security program.
The government is working with Chinese state-run company Sinohydro Corporation to complete the project.
The ministry's water resources director general Mohamad Hasan says the construction, which is now almost 70 percent complete, is expected to start operations in April next year.
'We expect to start filling the dam between September and October this year,' Hasan told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
He said the country's second largest dam project is crucial for food security.
It has the capacity to irrigate around 90,000 hectares of rice fields across the Sumedang, Indramayu and Cirebon regencies of West Java when it is finished.
It will help local farmers harvest their paddy up to twice a year and prevent floods.
They now harvest only once a year, if at all.
The dam is being built on a 4,891 hectare plot covering 26 subdistricts in five districts of the province and is projected to supply 3,500 liters of water per second.
'We will also build a 110 megawatt hydropower plant to increase power capacity in West Java. This project will bring the people here a lot of benefits,' Hasan said.
There remains one problem to solve: the relocation of around 2,000 families who are still living in the project area.
Most families received compensation and moved when the project was begun in the early 1980s, but they returned when the project stalled and have returned to their normal ways of life.
'Regulations that we have today do not allow us to give them anything more. But, we are thinking of trying to include them in the PNPM [National Program for Community Empowerment] so that they can continue their lives,' Hasan went on.
He hoped the people would engage in the PNPM immediately because the government was bound by a contract with the Chinese to complete the project on time.
Besides Jatigede, the ministry is also working on the Karian Dam in Serang, Banten, financed by a $100 million soft loan from South Korea.
It will occupy some 2,107 hectares of land, including 1,720 hectares that will be used to retain 219 billion liters of water and the remainder used for the dam and associated buildings, according to Hasan.
A water treatment plant next to the dam will process 9,000 liters of water per second before it goes to residential and industrial areas in Tangerang, Serang and Cilegon, he said.
An additional 5,500 liters of water a second will irrigate 21 hectares of agricultural land in Serang and Cilegon.
In the future, the Karian Dam is expected to supply water to Jakarta.