The Jakarta Post
Five hundred farmers from four subdistricts in Kulon Progo regency, Yogyakarta, staged a rally at the Kepatihan gubernatorial office complex in Yogyakarta on Tuesday to reject a plan to build an airport in their regency.
The farmers expressed fear that they would lose their livelihood.
'We firmly reject the plan to build an airport in Temon,' the protesters' spokesperson, Martono, said.
He represented fellow farmers from Jangkaran, Sindutan, Paliyan and Glagah subdistricts grouped under the Wahana Tri Tunggal (WTT) farmers' group during a protest held at the Wiyata Praja hall in Kepatihan on Tuesday.
With approval from the central government, the Yogyakarta provincial administration has been making plans to build a new airport on a 688 hectare plot in a coastal area in Glagah and Congot subdistricts, Kulon Progo.
The new airport was considered necessary because the existing Adisutjipto Airport in Sleman was seen as operating at overcapacity.
Martono called on the provincial administration to stop disseminating information about the planned airport development.
'We don't want to move. We want to farm, live and die there,' he said.
The protesters, mostly women, were not able to meet with Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono because he was out of town. Instead, they were met by the provincial administration secretariat's assistant II overseeing economy and development, Didi Purwadi.
Another protester, Tri Sumarni of Glagah subdistrict, said that the farmers did not want to sell their fields because they had been earning a living from the fertile coastal agricultural fields.
'We plant vegetables, fruits and crops. We can earn tens of millions of rupiah,' Tri said.
She said that during an informational meeting on the project, the administration never discussed compensation for farmers who would be affected by the airport project. She said WTT members were not allowed to attend the informational meeting held at the Glagah subdistrict hall on Sept.23.
'Police blocked us from entering the forum,' she said.
In response to the protestors, Didi Purwadi said he would convey the farmers' aspirations to the governor. He also encouraged the protestors to attend informational meetings so they could convey their aspirations to the administration.
Didi also said that despite the protest, the administration would carry on with its plan to build the airport.
He said that farmers could choose from different forms of compensation for the fields needed for the development project: cash, replacement fields or a combination of both. 'We will discuss the matter during the public consultation forum,' Didi said.
He also called on the farmers to calm down because development of the airport was meant to boost incomes.
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