The Jakarta Post
Thousands of villagers in South Lampung have rejected planned geothermal exploration on Mount Rajabasa.
The villagers, mainly members of the Rajabasa traditional clan residing on the slope of Mount Rajabasa, staged a peaceful rally at Sukaraja dock in Jeti village, Rajabasa, on Wednesday, demanding that PT Supreme Energy cease its exploration.
Beside being detrimental to the environment, the villagers said the geothermal exploration would also damage the social structure of the South Lampung traditional community, especially those living around Mount Rajabasa.
Community figure in Rajabasa district, Yahudin Haika Gelar Karya Niti Zaman, said his group would continue to protest until PT Supreme Energy called off its plan. The company is currently building a dock in Jeti village, Rajabasa.
'In early May we sent a letter to oppose the planned exploration to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan but PT Supreme Energy continued its activities and its campaign for the exploration,' said Yahudin
He said that every resident on the mountain slope depended on the mountain for water.
'Mount Rajabasa is not only a source of life for us, but it also unites residents in preserving the local wisdom.'
'The exploration would disunite us and eventually wipe out the local wisdom, which we have long preserved. The traditional residents are not only from Lampung ethnic group, but also from the Sundanese, Javanese and Banten ethnic groups,' he said.
When met by residents in early May, Zulkifli acknowledged he had been urged by the company to issue the exploration license. However, he said, his office must discuss the matter again with residents due to the exploration site's proximity to traditional settlements.
'I know exactly the condition of people around the mountain because I hail from a village near Mount Rajabasa. I'm not afraid of anyone, but I'm afraid of the residents,' said the minister.
Zulkifli has not signed any permit because he is waiting for a decision from residents, based on the outcome of the campaign. The ministry will issue an exploration permit provided the campaign conducted by the company shows that everyone supports the geothermal exploration and exploitation on Mount Rajabasa.
The geothermal project is expected to produce 220 Megawatts of electricity while PT Supreme Energy plans to carry out drilling in 12 locations.
PT Supreme Energy is conducting a public campaign to residents in Kalianda district on the construction of a geothermal power plant with a capacity of 2x100 MW.
PT Supreme Energy senior manager Gagah Bhumyantono said that during the campaign, his company had explained to residents about environmental destruction issues and the eco-friendly geothermal management.
'We have also explained about the benefits of geothermal energy for the local economy and power supply in Lampung,' he said.
Meanwhile, secretary of the Lampung chapter of the Nusantara Traditional Communities Alliance (AMAN), Ichwanto M. Nuh said Zulkifli Hasan should have been firm and should not issue the exploration permit if he wished to preserve Mount Rajabasa.
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